Nick Hempton

Nick Hempton Band

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Australian saxophonist Nick Hempton arrived in Manhattan in 2004 and after paying his dues, got together a working band, reuniting with drummer Dan Aran, hiring Italian bassist Marco Panascia, and finally, pianist Art Hirahara. Unlike many artists making their debut recordings, Hempton adds a few familiar works to complement his potent originals. "Get This..." is the kind of hard bop vehicle one might expect from a Jazz Messengers' alum, a piece blending his soulful alto over the snappy rhythm section. None of Hempton's titles are explained in his amusing, often sarcastic liner notes, but "I'm a Nurse, I'm an Engineer" sounds as if it might have been inspired by a forgotten '50s Broadway musical, though transformed into a breezy samba. Panascia's introductory groove sets up the infectious, bluesy "The Artful Roger," with plenty of soul from Hempton and Hirahara. Hempton holds himself to a high standard by choosing the great Benny Carter's lush "Lonely Woman" for a ballad feature, but the leader's sensitive interpretation would have likely pleased its composer. The quartet also handles Joe Henderson's "Serenity" with finesse. If there is a disappointing track, it is the one vocal, featuring the rather thin voice of Jimmy Lategano in an otherwise enjoyable take of "But Beautiful."

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