Howard Alden

Swinging into Prominence

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Howard Alden turned up on a lot of jazz record dates in the 1980s and 1990s for a good reason: he proved himself as a superb technician who could also swing like mad. This 1987 LP is one of his earliest as his leader, with a supporting cast that includes pianist John Bunch, alto saxophonist Norris Turney, bassist Michael Moore, and drummer Jake Hanna, so it is no puffery for producer Harry Lim to refer to Alden's group as an "All Star Quintet." His playing, as well as that of his sidemen, frequently approaches perfection. Alden has always had a knack for covering overlooked songs and out-of-favor once popular standards; this date is no exception. The foot tapping "Blue Because of You" features some of the musicians' best solos. Turney wrote two originals for the session, including the Gospel-flavored "The Seventh Day" and the impromptu "Merilee Shuffle," which concluded the date. Alden's duet with Moore of the lovely ballad "The Folks Who Live on the Hill" intertwines the leader's lyrical lines with Moore's matchless arco bass. Sadly, this excellent record disappeared from print shortly after the death in 1990 of Harry Lim, founder and owner of Famous Door, and few of the label's recordings have been reissued elsewhere. This release deserves to appear on CD, but, until that time, it will grown exponentially in value for fans of Howard Alden.

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