Fred Hess

Exposed

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It was a good, even brilliant, idea to bring Hess together with new musicians to try something a little different than what he usually does. The Denver saxophonist has recorded only occasionally, but sometimes brilliantly, with his local small jazz combos, and this recording brings him into a new world entirely. For this outing, producer Robert Rusch presided over an all-star, hard-hitting collective featuring some all-star names from the CIMP roster. They perform seven snaky compositions by Hess with generally good results, although considering the talent, there is a sense that they do not always fulfill expectations. At times, there is even a feel of a jam session, where solos are sandwiched between complex heads. The music is played slightly more "outside" than previous projects by Hess, though he seems at home in the environment. Paul Smoker is an important part of the sound, and he continues to astonish with a grab-bag of twisted timbre. Throw in a dab of bassist Filiano and drummer Short for some added spice, and you have the makings of some mighty fine sounds. Hopefully, this album will bring a little bit of recognition to a powerful leader and performer who should be better known outside his home environment.

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