John Hart

Scenes from a Song

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After about 50 recordings as a sideman, this is the versatile John Hart's seventh album as a leader and the first with his fine new trio, and it's an intriguing combination of bold and dreamy. The bold arrives with the first dissonant chord, which leads into the droll and funky "Slacker's Hideaway." It's also evident on Hart's pulse-pounding "Obelisk," a fast trip on an open road accented by bent and bluesy notes. His "Parable, Pt. 2" follows the meditative "Parable, Pt. 1" with dark urgency, and "Trio Slant" is full of bop complexity. Hart also offers a jazzy, unusually non-Brazilian reading of Jobim's "Novens Douades," a fresh look at "September Song," and a mercifully de-perkified "Both Sides Now," where his subtle shadows better reflect the sentiments conveyed by the familiar lyric. The dreaminess appears in the serene and swaying title track, the spare acoustic beauty of his solo version of "Melancholia," the moonlit contemplation of "Passion Flower," and the delicate sway of "Make a Short Story Long." Hart and his trio are impressionistic without being vague, abstract without being cold, and can also play with strength and swing. This CD showcases a distinctive and tasteful artist who commands a full palette of colors and a gift for composition.

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