Friday, August 24, 2018

New Music Releases: Art Hirahara, Willie Hightower, Nick Finzer

Art Hirahara – Sunward Bound

Pianist Art Hirahara soars to the sun here – really rising to the top with an excellent group that features superb rhythm from Linda May Han Oh on bass and Rudy Royston on drums – plus a bit of tenor from Donny McCaslin as well! The core trio is more than enough, though – and the pairing of Oh and Royston is superb, with this round, rolling, always-soulful energy that really seems to illuminate Art's piano more than usual – setting a fire that's taken ever onward by Donny when he slides into a tune with those raspy notes of his! Most tunes are Hirahara originals, and are great too – with titles that include "Brooklyn Express", "Ruse For Blues Shoes", "Suspended", "Up Turn Out", "Beyond Right & Wrong", "Points Of View", "Unbound", and "Sunward Bound". ~ Dusty Groove

Willie Hightower – Out Of The Blue

The long-overdue return of a southern soul legend – as the great Willie Hightower returns to the Muscle Shoals scene that gave him some of his best music of the 60s! Hearing the sound of the record, it's as if nothing's changed at all – and we mean that in the best way possible – as Willie's vocals are still wonderful, and the backing has that right mode of easygoing soul to really let the singer flow – which he does wonderfully under the production guidance of equal southern soul legend Quinton Claunch, with backing from all star players who include Travis Wammack on guitar and Clayton Ivey on Hammond. The whole thing's better than you might even expect – like lost tapes from the mid 70s, with a warm glow that shows Willie in perfect for all the way through! Titles include "Everybody Wants My Girl", "No Gettin Over Me", "You Can't Love", "I Found You", "Raining All The Time", "Somewhere Dry", "Tired Of Losing You", and "Easy Loving". ~ Dusty Groove

Nick Finzer – No Arrival

Trombonist Nick Finzer's got a round, warm sound throughout – a well-blown approach to his instrument that comes on with all the rich colors of a classic player like Curtis Fuller or JJ Johnson! Yet there's also a freshness to the record, too – partly because Nick wrote about half the songs himself, and partly because the whole thing has that crisp crackle that we love so much from the Posi-tone label – a rock-solid quality, delivered by a lineup that includes Victor Gould on piano, Lucas Pino on tenor, Alex Wintz on guitar, Dave Baron on bass, and Jimmy MacBride on drums. Titles include "Never Enough", "Rinse & Repeat", "A Flower Is A Lovesome Thing", "No Arrival", "Tomorrow Next Year", and a version of the Prince tune "The Greatest Romance Ever Sold". ~ Dusty Groove

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