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Jeff Hackworth - Night Owl

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New York City saxophonist Jeff Hackworth keeps alive the soulful tenor tradition of such historic greats as Gene Ammons, David "Fathead" Newman, Stanley Turrentine and the still active Houston Person. But rather than just duplicate the past, Hackworth invigorates the music with his own personal sound and modern ideas. While his last two CDs (How Little We Know and Where The Blue Begins) featured his tenor with a piano trio, here he explores the jazz organ tradition but with a twist. "It's been awhile since I recorded with organ," says the saxophonist. "Having vibes instead of guitar in the frontline gives the format a different take. I know Radam and Earl from the local scene. We play gigs together at a club in Newark called Skippers. Radam suggested Jay Hoggard on vibes. He turned out to be a great addition to the session." The program begins with Johnny Lytle's "The Man," a tune with a simple and direct melody that definitely has an attitude. The one-chord vamp features a passionate tenor solo and fine spots for organ and vibes, showing how much the group can create on a fairly simple but powerful piece. The first of Hackworth's four originals is "Innuendo." "I was thinking about Fathead Newman with this song, his funky sound and descriptive feel." Hackworth's lyrical tenor stars during a soulful strut that also features some wailing organ. With "Love Me Two Times" a shuffle by the Doors, Hackworth and his group continue the longtime tradition of covering pop and rock songs and bringing them back to the blues. The tenorman's "Little Blue" is a wistful late night smoky ballad that leads logically into "Night Owl." The latter song came about when Hackworth spontaneously played an open figure on his horn that became the basis for the tune's melody. The result is a catchy and singable jazz waltz that one can imagine being outfitted with lyrics. "Sideswipe" is a high-powered bluish 16-bar boogaloo that was inspired by Lee Morgan's "The Sidewinder" but has a personality of it's own. "I'm Your Puppet," is a 1960s pop song first done by James and Bobby Purify in 1966 and the Boxtops the following year. Unlike those versions, this rendition is slowed down and given a memorable texture by having Hoggard's vibes double the melody. The rock melody is successfully transformed into a relaxed and haunting jazz ballad. The 1930s standard "That Lucky Old Sun" is the fastest tune on the date. Usually performed at a medium-slow pace, here it is taken at a rapid tempo that gives the musicians an opportunity to really cook. Hackworth gives the ballad "We Kiss In A Shadow" a very personal and heartfelt rendition, bringing out the beauty and the inner soul of the song. It takes a great deal of musical maturity to do this with a veteran melody, but he makes the song his own. Night Owl concludes with "You'd Better Love Me," which Hackworth originally heard in a version by Sonny Stitt. In this new recording, the tenor solo builds and builds while the organ and drums push hard behind him. After fluent solos by Hoggard and Schwartz, the band repeats the happy melody and jams enthusiastically over the closing vamp, giving the impression they did not want to stop playing. Listeners will also hope that the music does not stop. Jeff Hackworth was born in Canton, Ohio and grew up in Cincinnati and Buffalo. Starting on alto he took up tenor while in high school. Although he earned a degree in classical saxophone at the University of Buffalo, his most important music lessons were learned on the bandstand, working with dance bands, R&B/ blues groups, and organ combos in the Buffalo area. "Playing those types of gigs was important in my understanding of a musician's role in conjunction with the audience. If we didn't connect, we didn't work and that meant we didn't eat!" In addition, Hackworth went on the road with a variety of bands including two years with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra (under the direction of Buddy Morrow), two years with Chubby Checker, and tours with Matt "Guitar" Murphy. While developing into a major voice in jazz, he has played many types of gigs in New York including with organists at Showman's in Harlem. He also became good friends with one of his early influences, Houston Person, who produced his two previous recordings. "One thing that I learned from Houston is that when I record, if I take my time in selecting the songs, a theme will eventually reveal itself. For Night Owl, I picked the best songs for the project and it ended up with that nighttime feel. For the future, Jeff Hackworth is determined to stay true to what he believes in. "I want to keep writing and performing the music that I love. I want to keep this tradition alive." By developing into a highly individual voice and performing the music with enthusiasm and creativity, Jeff Hackworth is doing just that. Scott Yanow, author of ten books including The Jazz Singers, Trumpet Kings, Jazz On Film and Jazz On Record 1917-76 Review of Night Owl by Jeff Simon Buffalo News Hackworth has a variant of that big 'chitlin circuit' tenor sound that people loved so much in Gene Ammons, David 'Fathead' Newman and Houston Person. But he's not afraid of the multiphonic screams and furious flurries of notes that distinguished the tenor generations that came after them. There's no question that the music of Hackworth's quartet here -- with vibraphonist Jay Hoggard, Hammond B-3 player Radam Schwartz and drummer Earl Grice -- is in the tradition of the music that once held sway at great Blue Collar Buffalo jazz clubs such as the Pine Grill, the Bon Ton and Jan's, but it's all played by the kind of musician who, as someone once described a politician, is not the kind of fellow who's ever hesitant about which opening in a revolving door to enter. And there's also no question that vibist Hoggard adds an element here you don't often hear with such groups. It couldn't be more welcome, in this case. (Jeff Simon) Review from By JERRY D'SOUZA Published: August 5, 2011 Jeff Hackworth: Night Owl If there is one trait that time has etched on Jeff Hackworth's career it is his development as a tenor saxophonist. Hackworth has shown a growing maturity on his recordings, with Night Owl being his strongest. He is not afraid to take chances and develops themes with an abiding sense of adventure. His tone can be smooth and coaxing, but it is can also be abrasive as it underscores a tensile groove. Put together they make for music that is admirable for it's sense of vision and accomplishment. Hackworth's choice of tunes serves him well with the standards sitting comfortably with his own work as well as a song from The Doors. 'Love Me Two Times' settles into the comfort of the blues, as Hackworth blows notes that billow and wrap the melody. His extrapolation into swing enhances the feel, one that is captured by vibraphonist Jay Hoggard who is bright, breezy and downright scintillating. Add the undercurrent of blues from organist Radam Schwartz and the polyrhythmic propulsion of Earl Grice, and the tune becomes absolutely exhilarating. The mood is earthy on the balladic title track, resonating with soulful playing. Each player keeps his vision clear and focused, with Hackworth displaying admirable control as he wraps his sax over the song's contours. Hoggard lends a quiet, harmonically compact dynamism. The band is right at home on the rambunctious, Memphis-hewn 'Sideswipe,' standing in contrast to the silken 'We Kiss In A Shadow.' In tandem, they profile the versatility of a band that goes out high on 'You'd Better Love Me.' Hackworth swings hard, pitching, intense lines as he builds a steamy edifice, finding his counterpart in Schwartz. Hoggard is the minstrel between them, his light touch tempering the torrid atmosphere. The band is the messenger, and a wonderful one at that, as it serves up a diverse and consistently pleasing album. Track Listing: The Man; Innuendo; Love Me Two Times; Little Blue; Night Owl; Sideswipe; I'm Your Puppet; That Lucky Old Sun; We Kiss in a Shadow; You'd Better Love Me. Personnel: Jeff Hackworth: tenor saxophone; Jay Hoggard: vibraphone; Radam Schwartz: organ; Earl Grice: drums.

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Jeff Hackworth - Night Owl.

1) The Man
2) Innuendo
3) Love Me Two Times
4) Little Blue
5) Night Owl
6) Sideswipe
7) I'm Your Puppet
8) That Lucky Old Sun
9) We Kiss in a Shadow
10) You'd Better Love Me

Night Owl
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Night Owl | Jeff Hackworth