David Hazeltine

The Inspiration Suite

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Jazz pianist David Hazeltine, like many baby-boomer musicians, is influenced by Wes, Buddy, and Monk Montgomery and Cedar Walton. For what he calls his most personally driven recording date, he pays tribute to them by composing a four-part suite inspired by their sounds. Hazeltine and his quintet -- which includes the formidable vibraphonist Joe Locke and longtime collaborator tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander -- give alms with some well-conceived and executed modern mainstream jazz. The suite begins as a neo-bop cadence buoys a splattering of several Cedar-flavored motifs, two-note accents, and piano-bass unison lines for "Motivation." "Reverence" has Locke's vibes shimmering on a low and slow Latin-shaded piece, followed by another bright neo-bop melody, "Insight," and the finale is a 6/8 composition, "Gratitude," that could have easily fit into the repertoire of Walton and Bobby Hutcherson's Timeless All Stars book. Of the five stand-alone tracks, two are covers left until the end of the CD -- Walton's much lesser-known "Shoulders" is as straight-ahead as jazz gets, while Buddy Montgomery's "Personage of Wes" is a kinetic, uppity sizzler. A newly arranged complex and arresting intro is tacked onto the standard "I Should Care," and Hazeltine's original "Don't Walk Away" is treated in a Latin fashion, occasional percussionist Daniel Sadownick adding the spice, but again settles in the modern mainstream. Hazeltine has not put out the full-force blockbuster breakthrough recording his clear talent indicates, but this one ranks with his many best efforts.

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