Odd Man Out (Posi-Tone; 2013)
Art Hirahara (piano)
Marco Panascia (bass)
Dan Aran (drums)
Michael Dease (trombone)
I f-n'! loved this record! Sometimes you're just blown away by the basics and the attention to tradition. That's what Nick Hempton has done on his third album, Odd Man Out. Deploying the same group as his previous excellent outing, The Business, with Michael Dease replacing Yotam Silberstein, Hempton's quintet execute a smooth and stylish return.
While there's nothing that will break new ground here--it's the way its performed and constructed that I loved the most. Hempton's prerogative is to groove, all the while showing a real strong sense of leadership and maturity in this new set. "The Step Up" and "Nights And Mornings" both show a steadfast commitment to hard bop and heartwarming balladry. Hemptons' interplay with Hirahara and Panascia is superb.
Hempton's sound continues to grow and become more well rounded. While the tunes on Odd Man Out have that hard bop feel to them, you can feel from "A Bicycle Accident" that Hempton's writing is starting to move many new directions. Here Hempton applies multiple layers and patterns that allows the rest of the group to move freely and shape new ideas over the course of the piece.
Nick Hempton's quick growth over the last few years has been exciting to watch and listen. Odd Man Out is another step forward in that progress. And it's a great record with grooves and rich structures. Worth every note rooted in tradition but vibrant for now.