Gerard Hagen

Stay Tuned

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Gerard Hagen's Stay Tuned establishes two distinctive jazz climates. When the group gets into original or jazz standard material, it takes on a progressive jazz mien. "Bass (and Tenor) Tune" is a thoughtful and musically broad-minded interchange between the forward-looking bass of Domenic Genova and guest artist Chuck Manning on tenor. The trio puts on another face when it comes to the classic standards. Not that they play them straightforward, note for note. Hagen's pianistic extemporizing on "Beautiful Love" is delightful as he executes fluttering runs, putting the entire keyboard into play. Nonetheless, there is a mainstream jazz feeling about it, with a flavor not unlike that embedded in early groups headed by Kenny Drew. In addition to Manning, the experienced and respected guitar styling of Larry Koonse enhances a couple of cuts. The major contribution comes on Steve Swallow's "Eiderdown," where he and Genova, a bass player of considerable talent, work in tandem to produce an engaging chorus or two. Hagen has a special way with the piano that sets him apart from today's young lions. He is gently respectful of melody, avoiding pianistic gymnastics and chord bashing. "Up Jumped Spring," as much as any track, captures the precious singing tones Hagen gets out of the instrument. Even when another member of the trio starts to blaze, such as Jerry Kalaf's drums on "Sweet and Lovely," the piano player holds himself in check. The session is in no way limited to thoughtful ruminations. Hagen leads the way, with Koonse's clear, ringing guitar in tow, on a tastefully swinging "Warne-ing," Gary Foster's paean to Warne Marsh. Based on this excellent multi-dimensional outing, Hagen shows he is a stylist to be reckoned with.

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