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Reviews: July 6th, Live at Birdland New York - The Great Jazz Trio, Hank Jones

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Reviews: 2

Review by stef40 December 3, 2007 (3 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
I have half of the great jazz trio sacd's,both with Elvin Jones,one with Jack Dejohnette,and three with Omar hakim.These sacds(5th and 6th july) are live recording at the birdland in New York.On the 5th july,Hank Jones,Omar Hakim and John Patitucci play standards and originals from MR Jones,most of the songs are played at mid tempos with one or more ballads,each musician takes a lot of chorus as it is usual in a trio.MR Suzuki from Sony music did a great live recording sound on both sacds,for me,he is just a True master in his job!The 6th is good too but i was a bit disapointed because you can see on the obi strip "funky nigth",and yes when you listen to Mecy Mecy,it's really funky but just after this track,there are no more funky track so...Anyway,enjoy!

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Review by Oakland January 6, 2008 (6 of 6 found this review helpful)
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“July 6th The Great Jazz Trio” (Hank Jones-piano, John Patittucci-bass, and Omar Hakim-drums) was recorded live at the Birdland New York this last July 6, 2007. I have had it for a few weeks now and was originally going to post my comments almost immediately after hearing it a couple of times. (See my comments at: posted about 3 weeks ago. But I was so charged by what I found to be the stark realism of the sound quality of the drums (especially) that I thought it best to defer my comments lest they be overstated. I knew that I would be attending two or three live jazz sets before the end of the year so I delayed my comments until after those sessions.

Actually, I was spurred to purchase this disc following a session at Yoshi’s, the renowned jazz den in Oakland, California. I heard a quintet led by drummer Roy Haynes that included Kenny Garret (sax), Nicholas Payton (trumpet), David Kikoski (pianist) and John Patitucci (bassist). The headliners were Haynes, Payton, and Garrett, and for the most part they lived up to their reputations (especially on Monks "Green Chimneys"). But I must say Patitucci kicked plenty butt on bass throughout the set and it was his play that compelled me to my purchase of this SACD.

And so, too, does Patitucci acquit himself masterfully with the Great Jazz Trio, on this album, thumpin', fingerin’ and bowin' on all cuts. (As is expected with a Trio there are generous opportunities throughout the set for each musician to strut their stuff solo). But on this album my vote for MVP goes to the drummer Hakim. Although I must admit on numerous subsequent listens Patitucci gives Hakim a run for the money and I would not at all fault you if he snares your vote.

But on all cuts, especially, "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy", "Blue Monk", and "Moose the Mooch" Hakim is “Mr. Excitement”. I'm talkin' about Chick Webb, Cozy Cole type of attacks, but in a way that is more muscular and uniquely modern. His improvisation is dazzling.

The sound is hard driving authentic. Hakim’s playing, as they say in the vernacular, is flat out “wicked”. The recording (DSD), from the label Eighty-Eights, especially from Hakim, presented a singular challenge never before experienced by my system by a drummer. The sense of realism, the authenticity of Hakim's drums/cymbals are something I have never experienced outside of a jazz venue. (Yeah, I know, here we go again with more audiophile hyperbole BS).

This was my initial impression, but as I mentioned above I attended three jazz sets before I posted my comments here. These live settings served only to validate my initial impressions with respect to the realism of the sound. In fact, on New Years day I attended a very intimate jazz set in which I was allowed to sit right next to the drummer. I can say without hyperbole, that when played at life like (important) vels, the sound quality of the drums on the “July 6th The Great Jazz Trio” SACD rivals what I heard in a live setting. And all aspects of the drum kit, snares, toms (power toms?), bass drum, cymbals, high hat, sound top tier on this recording.

While Hakim is quite capable of being a traditional timekeeper that’s not what he’s paid to do in this set. He’s called upon to be the man. True, at times his dominance may lead him right up to the existential edge of taking a separate path and succeeding from the union, but he never crosses thatine, always in step with his mates and always mindful of Jones’ guiding cues. So, yeah, Hakim is quite capable of taking over the game, but unlike the old Kobe he does so only directed by the coach (Jones).

So while I give the nod to Hakim, I must say that Patitucci, in this set, soundly rejects any characterization that he’s a mere sideman, if such a misplaced characterization was made in the first place (not likely). He’s a star player and he knows it. His playing is masterful throughout. For example, in “Five Spot After Dark” he get’s down, fingerin’ and thumpin’ with the best.. And in “In a Sentimental Mood” he treats the audience (this is a live recording) to a articulately colorful solo with bow.

And Hank Jones? He is what he is, the undisputed Dean of Trio. Jones is *so* masterful with tempos. I’m not at all suggesting he is in peak form, but his playing is wonderfully full bodied with speed, dexterity (with no handicap, thank you, for his octogenarian stature) and power. His left hand is in great form. This is most clearly demonstrated in the ballad “Softly as in a Morning Sunrise”, when Jones is at his most powerful.

And he is clearly the head man in charge. His leadership is strong and experienced. This is no more evident in the aforementioned “Five Spot After Dark”. The synergy developed with Hakim is proof positive. Hakim’s expressive audacity may not work with many combos because of his unbridled dominance. But Jones works it like a walk on the beach. With Patitucci, too, Jones knows just when to turn the spot lite on (or off) to bring out the best in his bassist.

The sound is very good in stereo, but in multi-channel it may be as good as I have heard in a jazz recording in any format. And I say this after attending multiple and very recent live jazz sets. I find that a live setting is especially well served with multi-channel. In this recording the trio is laid out before you like at Yoshis. The focus or aspect ratio of instruments is notably exceptional. On some jazz discs I have heard recently the musicians while they sound great the presentation is distorted, such as the drummer having a Wilt Chamberlin wingspan that extends across the full breadth of the sound stage. And while I have emphasized the sound quality of Hakim, Patitucci, and Jones are also well recorded (though not as well recorded as the drum kit).

Bottom line, I find this a most enjoyable and exciting disc. In fact, at the risk of mixing apples and oranges, I find “July 6th The Great Jazz Trio” along with Tchaikovsky: Manfred Symphony Czech Philharmonic Kobayashi (conductor) on Exton as my most favorite finds of 2007.

Robert C. Lang

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