Hank Crawford

Portrait

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With its mix of soulful ballads, blues, and soul-jazz cookers, this is a pretty accurate "portrait" of Crawford, though it doesn't add anything unexpected to his profile. Starting out with the archetypical blues shuffle "Tanya," his big fatback tone illuminating the course of "Count Every Star," or slipping some quotes into "Happy Faces," Crawford remains happily content with his idiom, with no need to change at a time when it was coming back into favor. On three tracks, Crawford is joined by the comfortably compatible David "Fathead" Newman, twice on tenor and once on alto. Johnny Hammond keeps the organ pumping along, even varying the tone quality now and then; guitarist Jimmy Ponder has a few erratic moments; and drummer Vance James is sufficiently adept at propelling the blues shuffle. Though not one of the best latter-day Crawford sessions, Portrait won't let the faithful down.

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