Two Imaginatively Crafted Jazz Singles from Saxophonist Nick Hempton
All the hype about artists not putting out albums anymore turned out to be just that. While largescale studio productions seem to be pretty much on the way out, everybody still seems to want to document what they’ve written in some kind of controlled, offstage environment. But the jazz world has been lagging behind. Saxophonist/composer Nick Hempton is one of the few guys in that field who’ve started to put out singles, and his first two – part of a series he calls Catch and Release – are fantastic.
They’re more expansive than the jukebox jazz that guys like JD Allen and Orrin Evans have championed lately, each song exhibiting both the cinematic sensibility that Hempton often brings to his music, as well as a Dexter Gordon-like vibrato and terse, close-to-the-ground tunefulness. The initial release – streaming at Hempton’s blog – swings an acerbic samba-tinged hook up to an icepick Tadataka Unno piano solo followed by a winkingly flashy Dan Aran drum solo, Dave Baron’s bass holding the center.
The second single, Hanging for Dear Life is a lot of fun, interpolating breezy blues and some coyly fluttery Hempton sax within all kinds of tempo and dynamic shifts and trick endings. If we’re lucky, this series will grow into a fullscale album: it’ll be fun to watch as it the track list grows. Hempton plays next with different quartet – Baron, drummer Charles Ruggiero and pianist Victor Gould – at Smalls on Sept 4 at midnight, cover is $20 and that includes a drink.