David Hazeltine

Blues Quarters, Vol. 1

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David Hazeltine's third Criss Cross release features him in the company of tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander, bassist Dwayne Burno, and drummer Joe Farnsworth. The pianist contributes three originals, two of which, "Naccara" and "A Touch of Green," share a similarly spacious, hard bop-oriented harmonic layout. The third, "Blues Quarters," is a 16-bar minor blues. Its form can be divided into quarters (hence the title), a fact that becomes especially interesting during the "trading fours" rounds with the drummer. On this tune and on Charlie Parker's "Cheryl," Alexander's and Hazeltine's mastery of the bop-blues idiom is astonishing. The lightning-quick closing track, "What Are You Doing?," also highlights Alexander's talent as a writer.

Of the standards on the record, the bright Latin rendition of "Cry Me a River" is novel, but "Milestones" and "Spring Is Here" don't really rise above the ordinary. On the whole, however, this is a strong offering from one of the most consistent straight-ahead pianists on the jazz scene.

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