David Hazeltine

Inversions

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David Hazeltine seems to get lost in the shuffle of so many modern jazz pianists on the scene. In demand as a sideman, and prominent in his role with the group One for All, Hazeltine's own quintet consistently offers well-defined, mainstream modern jazz. Perhaps Inversions will be the breakthrough, due to the usual high-caliber musicianship, the repertoire he has chosen to interpret, and the unique sound of the band. With vibraphonist Steve Nelson present, the sound is brighter, fuller, and deeper. One for All mate Eric Alexander plays a thickly cut tenor that never seems to dissipate, making Hazeltine's piano all the more supportive and substantive. Hazeltine's tribute to Cedar Walton, "For Cedar," shows his love for modern post-bop, while the hot Latin-infused title track has the band truly turning up the wick. Always mindful of the tradition, Hazeltine includes two tasteful standards, but the majority of the music is based in easy swing to hard bop. At the center is his clever, centered, never overwhelming piano playing, distinctive for those who choose to listen closely. Never a poll winner or critics' darling, David Hazeltine simply makes a brand of straight-ahead jazz that is interesting and original within accessible, comfortable parameters.

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