Art Hirahara

The Rhythm Section, Vol. 2: Without a Horn

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The second volume of a two-album set paying tribute to the great rhythm sections of the '50s and '60s, this edition differs from the first in two main aspects. First, while the play list in the initial volume was made up mostly of compositions by John Coltrane and by bassist Mahanaim Satya, this CD has no original material, and Wayne Shorter compositions are in the plurality. But like the first album, the play list is such that it allows for the full exploration of ideas both in ensemble and in solo. Second, Spike Klein takes over the drummer's chair. He has a lighter touch and his timekeeping is a bit crisper than Alan U'Ren from the first session. And this leads into the major difference: The playing is more composed -- not duller, by any means, than on the first album. The play list allows a display of the gentler side of pianist Art Hirahara as he delicately dances and improvises his way through the classic standards "I Hear a Rhapsody" and "Lazy Afternoon." One of the headline tracks is a lilting rendition of "So Near So Far." There is still plenty of intensity in the playing, but it isn't as demonstrative as on the first volume. While both CDs would be worthy additions to a jazz collection, if limited to one choice, Vol. 1 certainly has the more determined and animated performances on it.

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