This CD reissue combines two complete albums by Hampton Hawes from the early '70s. Unfortunately, neither one of these sessions has stood the test of time all that well. While Hawes is accompanied by electric bassist Bob Cranshaw and drummer Kenny Clarke during his 1973 trio set at Montreux (first issued as Playin' in the Yard), he spends much of the time playing electric piano, losing his very distinctive sound in the process, as did most pianists who played the Fender Rhodes. Sonny Rollins' "Playin' in the Yard" loses its charm because of the inferior instrument, though Hawes does incorporate the acoustic piano into other portions of his live set. The latter session is a bigger disappointment. Originally released as Northern Windows, Hawes is additionally handicapped by David Axelrod's bland funky arrangements, and especially the plodding, dull work of electric bassist Carol Kaye. The material, which includes the spiritual "Go Down Moses" and five lackluster originals, sounds extremely dated, in spite of the presence of trumpeter Snooky Young and trombonist George Bohanon. Axelrod's charts are overly repetitious and don't make good use of the horns and reeds, relegating them to playing unison riffs. With so many far better CDs available from Fantasy by Hampton Hawes, it is easy to skip this disappointing reissue.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden