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A graceful, low-key session from a trumpeter capable of much more aggressive work, Hoop Dreams puts Joe Magnarelli in front of a mellow rhythm section anchored by the reflective pianist Gary Versace, with occasional cool, Joe Pass-style guitar lines by Peter Bernstein. This lineup would tempt many players to turn lackadaisical, but even on the slowest, most relaxed arrangements of these ten tracks (such as the lovely, glacially paced take on the Ben Webster standard "Old Folks"), Magnarelli gooses things along with short, crisply played melodic lines and fleet solos that give Hoop Dreams a pep missing from some similar small-combo lineups. Most interestingly, however, Magnarelli uses this lineup to pay tribute to Thelonious Monk, offering intriguing reinterpretations of "Monk's Mood," "Ask Me Now," and "I Mean You" that turn Monk's familiar spiky melodic lines into unexpectedly pretty ruminations that are a perfect fit with the relaxed, late-night vibe of Hoop Dreams.
Years Active: '90s, '00s