Time Changes

Jerry Hahn

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Time Changes Review

by Michael G. Nastos

There's a 20-plus-year span between electric guitarist Hahn's Brotherhood recordings and this CD. In between he's gone from hippie to tweed suit while establishing the jazz guitar studies program at Wichita State University, taking residence in Portland and Denver, and doing this date in NYC with all-stars bassist Steve LaSpina, drummer Jeff Hirshfield, either pianists Phil Markowitz or Art Lande, and soprano saxophonist David Liebeman for two selections. Hahn's influence on Pat Metheny, John Scofield, John Abercrombie, Mike Stern, and Bill Frisell is clear. He uses a little delay, echo, and reverb, just enough to enhance his improvisations, and when he's technically concentrating, he can easily be coarsely sparse and sharply staccato, elongated from a chordal standpoint, a bit twangy, and consistently tasteful. With the emerging pianist Markowitz, the quartet is really on for the sprightly, quick bopping, close-to-standard Hahn original "The Method," a bright white piano/guitar unison melody. It's all Hahn upfront, Markowitz backing on the easy, basic swinging "Blues for Allyson." The lighthearted swinger "Oregon" is for the state, not the group, and the perfectly hewn "Stolen Moments" is damn near perfect. So is "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat," the Charles Mingus penned ballad/blues paeon to Lester Young, Markowitz coming in a bit late in the head. Liebman's distinctive overblown soprano is prevalent on the quirky bopper "Hannah Bear," and more on the unpredictable title track, claiming no bar lines though beats of seven and eight are heard in LaSpina's bass, the melody between guitar and soprano a bit cartoonish. Hahn's blues chops are clear to hear on Eric Dolphy's "245," even deeper for the gin and tonic, pensive, lingering long chords of Denny Zeitlin's "Quiet Now," with suggested melodies from "Prelude to a Kiss" and "Sophisticated Lady." The finale is a guitar/piano (with Lande) gentle spirit song duet "Chelsea Rose," one of many titles dedicated to Hahn's children. If this is indeed a comeback for Hahn, it's not likely to last, as he doesn't seems all that interested in recording regularly. That means this CD is an event, and it is a grand occasion to hear one of the true unsung heroes, along with Mick Goodrick, Ted Green, and Rene Thomas, in this strain of modern jazz guitar expressionism. Highly recommended.

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