Bertha Hope

Elmo's Fire

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Bertha Hope was married to pianist Elmo Hope for just seven years prior to his death in 1967, but she only recorded a few piano duets with him until getting back into the studio in the early 1990s. On this session, she proves herself to a more than capable pianist, composer and arranger as she leads a strong quintet featuring trumpeter Eddie Henderson, tenor saxophonist Junior Cook (with Dave Riekenberg taking over on "Bellarosa"), bassist Walter Booker and drummer Leroy Williams. Her snappy "Bai Tai Blues" stands up against anything her late husband recorded during his career, while there is plenty of blowing space for Cook and Henderson. The lovely ballad tribute "For Duke and Cannon," composed by Sonny Fortune, is a subtle feature for Hope with Booker's tasty bass and Williams' crisp brushwork. She offers effective interpretations of her late husband's works, especially the sauntering "Bellarosa" and the breezy "Elmo's Fire," which showcases the leader extensively. Sadly there are no liner notes to give more background about the leader and the making of this session. Bertha Hope, a superb talent worthy of wider recognition in her own right, should be a regular visitor to the recording studio.

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