Karlton Hester

Musicism for the Sake of Love

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At the time of this release, Karlton Hester was not a readily recognizable name in jazz circles, but he has produced some fine recordings worthy of a wide audience. The instant recording combines tracks from two LPs released in the '80s on Karlton's Hesteria label: Karlton Hester and the Contemporary Jazz Art Movement: Hesterian Musicism and Karlton Hester and the Contemporary Jazz Art Movement: Dances Purely for the Sake of Love. Karlton's ensembles are distinguished by their unusual instrumentation, as elements of third-stream composition combine with straight-ahead blowing to form unique artistic messages. The first six tracks combine Karlton on flute with a small orchestra that includes oboes, violin, trumpet, and tenor sax. "The Pee Cal Flute Experiment" is a compelling flute quintet, while "For the Affect of It" is an attractive flute trio with flowing lines and impressive improvisations. The last two pieces feature Karlton on flute and bass flute, with oboe, harp, vibes, bass, and piano. Although the results are firmly within the four corners of the jazz tradition, they are filtered through a unique vision that combines easily accessible harmonies and sophisticated, interweaving lines. The solos are generally well-played though rarely innovative; Hester's own are impressively constructed and uniformly attractive, and pianist Walter Prossnitz's are bold and confident. While the sole vocal -- on the lengthy "Felicitous Circus" -- is a bit of a disappointment, the remainder of the album is further evidence of the valuable contributions of an underappreciated artist.

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