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Pastels

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Album Review

Stan Hope has been in the jazz business for more than 40 years, but Pastels is only his third album as a leader. The influence of Erroll Garner on Hope's approach to the music is evident, not only in the playing, but in Hope's selection of four Garner-composed tunes for this session. To Hope's credit, "Misty" is not one of them. Hope's playing sparkles like Garner's, but is not as fanciful or as ornate. Hope doesn't engage in those long, twisting runs Garner is noted for, but Hope swings and plays in an unabashedly romantic manner, sometimes within the same song. Listen to the title tune — another Garner composition — for a summation of the Hope pianistic approach. He possesses a deft touch putting out swinging, glistening chords, with the emphasis on the right hand, all with a sentimental flavor. The album also features Hope's affection for things Latin. Benny Carter's engaging "Summer Serenade" is given a scintillating Latin-tinged workout by the trio with Ray Drummond's plucked bass working effortlessly underneath Hope's piano.

While this album is primarily a piano trio set, Houston Person shows up with his swinging soulful tenor saxophone on three cuts. After an extended swinging introduction by Hope on "Indiana," Person's tenor makes an explosive entrance and takes over the tune, with Hope's piano comping in support. Ray Drummond's bass and Kenny Washington's drums are also heard to good effect on this cut. Person makes a major contribution to an engaging "Be Anything" (a pop hit for Doris Day in the 1950s) and chips in on Hope's "Hopeful Blues." The set ends with a pleasant, melodic medley of standards. Savant Records focuses on recording jazz musicians who have been in the business for a long time, but haven't received the exposure and recognition they've earned. Hope certainly fits that category.

Biography

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

As a youngster growing up in Atlantic City, Stan Hope and his friends would climb the roof of the building across from the club where the Count Basie Orchestra was playing. Listening to Basie's band which boasted, among others, Lester Young, Buck Clayton, and Freddie Green, Hope begin thinking that this was what he wanted to do. He was pushed over the line when his aunt gave him records of Erroll Garner playing "Be Anything" and Garner's composition "Pastels" for his birthday. Both these tunes appear...
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