Frank Hewitt

Four Hundred Saturdays

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Frank Hewitt was a talented hard bop pianist who unjustly never got the chance to record as a leader until nearly the end of his life. A regular fixture playing late night and early morning gigs at Smalls in New York City for years prior to his death in 2002, his third date as a leader comes from a 1999 set at the club. An inventive, often playful pianist, Hewitt obviously enjoys throwing his audience a curve by calling for the swing favorite "Lullaby in Rhythm" and transforming it into a viable hard bop vehicle, incorporating a long, intriguing solo reminiscent of Bud Powell at his very best. His unusual comping in "Blue Gardenia" doesn't throw tenor saxophonist Chris Byars and alto saxophonist Mike Mullins at all; instead, they build upon it with potent solos. The band negotiates the twists and turns within Powell's "Oblivion" with ease. The saxophonists also shine along with the leader in their passionate, driving exploration of Dizzy Gillespie's "Manteca." Bassist Ari Roland and drummer Jimmy Lovelace provide a solid rhythm team throughout the date. It is unclear how much more unreleased material by Frank Hewitt that producer Luke Kaven has stockpiled, but it is a safe bet that there will be increased demand for it as the word spreads in the jazz world about this talented pianist who never gained the attention he merited during his lifetime.

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