Tony Hymas

Hope Street MN

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AllMusic Review by

Through one of Michel Portal's projects, underrated British pianist Tony Hymas developed a connection with Minneapolis that resulted in a beautiful and challenging session. To back him up, he recruited bassist Billy Peterson and drummer Eric Kamau Gravatt, a Weather Report alum who had somewhat fallen into oblivion and was still making a living as a prison guard at the time of this recording. Hymas is an extremely versatile musician and composer, as evidenced by "9 Regrets," where he successfully blends romanticism and dissonance. The pianist also has the rare ability to turn a sugary melody into a sincere statement and he can cut the sweetness of a tune verging on sentimentality ("Just Calling for You"). He is at ease when mixing complex rhythmic patterns ("Allamambasalsalala"). His best composition is arguably "Quanah Parker," where the tension is masterfully built before it reaches its breaking point. Gravatt's cymbal work is gorgeous throughout. He always adds appropriate accents and his playing accommodates the various styles of the compositions -- whether it is a free-form escapade, a romantic waltz, or a solemn march. The rich and full sound of Peterson's bass helps fill up the sonic space; he also does it with imagination. The variety of the material and the original treatment it receives make Hope Street MN an effort well-worth checking out.

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