Frank Hewitt

We Loved You

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It isn't hard to understand why many jazz musicians who enjoy local hero status in their hometowns choose to stay put instead of moving to New York City. They may not be getting rich playing jazz in Seattle or Boston -- or Milan, Italy, for that matter -- but they reason that it's better to enjoy their hard-won local recognition than to uproot themselves and venture to the Big Apple in search of opportunities that may or may not exist. Besides, having a New York City address isn't necessarily a panacea for jazz artists; there are jazzmen who get lucky breaks living in Oslo, Norway, and there are lifelong New Yorkers like Frank Hewitt who go unrecognized in their hometown. Although the late bop pianist was surrounded by independent jazz labels, he didn't get a chance to make any studio recordings until he was 65 in 2001. Sadly, Hewitt didn't live long enough to see any of those recordings released; he died in 2002, and his first album, We Loved You, was released posthumously on the Smalls label in early 2004. This CD underscores the fact that although Hewitt wasn't overly original, he was a skillful, talented musician who was capable of both sensitivity and intellect. Bill Evans (the pianist, not the saxman) is a prominent influence on Hewitt's lyrical versions of overdone standards like "I Remember You" and "Polka Dots and Moonbeams," but there is also some of Thelonious Monk's quirky angularity in his pianism -- not to mention a healthy appreciation of Bud Powell. Favoring an acoustic trio format, Hewitt is joined by Ari Roland on bass and Jimmy Lovelace or Danny Rosenfeld on drums -- and all of those musicians serve him well on these enjoyable, if derivative, performances.

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