Antonio Hart BLESSINGS

ANTONIO HART Alto & Soprano Sax

Produced by: John Lee
Executive Producer: Lisa Broderick

Release: 2015
Price: $10.00

BLESSINGS.  “This is the music I grew up with in Baltimore—there was a hometown hero [tenor player] Mickey Fields I heard at the Sportsmans’ Lounge. It was always a dream of mine to do an album of that style.” While Bobby Floyd’s organ has that hi-caloric Hammond B-3 heft, he doesn’t recall the aforementioned organ masters as much as the late great modernist of the organ, Larry Young. Floyd plays with the fleetness of a modernist hard bop pianist (think John Hicks or Larry Willis), which by some coincidence, he is (a pianist, that is). As the DJs of yore said back-when, the pick-to-click is “I Can’t Help It,” featuring Hart’s soprano saxophone. Beginning with a hot-fun-in-the-summertime melody over a balm-like organ, it develops into some punch-and weave improvisations and an ebullient, rollicking rhythm. Yotam Silbertstein burns here with a voracious solo that betrays a touch of a bracing, smoldering Jimi Hendrix influence. Jack McDuff’s “Rock Candy” literally kicks the album off like the 1930s Basie band first set of a Saturday night club date. Hart swings like a man possessed, with a drive like Adderley (albeit with his own tone) and Phil Woods at their respective peaks with a bittersweet cry that evokes 1960s tenor titan Booker Ervin. Bobby Floyd’s organ has that hi-calorie richness in the vein of McDuff and Jimmy McGriff but with the fluidity of Larry Young. Silbertsteen’s guitar is sharp as a tack, rooted in the technique of Kenny Burrell and Wes Montgomery but with an edge all his own. Steve Williams’ drumming is crackling and volatile. For those that value the classic jazz balladry tradition, Hart has that covered—Frank Foster’s “Shiny Stockings” finds AH dancing with that oh-so-pretty melody with great tenderness and aplomb in the manner of jazz balladeers Ben Webster and Coleman Hawkins.