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Finally Ron

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Album Review

Clarinetist Ron Hockett's debut recording as a leader comes later in life at age 60, after hanging out in the Chicago scene studying with Benny Bailey, going to Princeton University, returning to Chi-Town, working in the Washington, D.C. jazz scene and the U.S. Marine Jazz Band for three decades, and enjoying considerable time with the trad band of Jim Cullum. The clear influence of Benny Goodman's smooth and sweet swing sound is noticeable from the start, but you can hear the influence of his hero Peanuts Hucko, Bob Wilber, and even Stan Getz in the lyrical quality Hockett exudes. He's put together an excellent backup band, with the brilliant guitarist James Chirillo and pianist John Sheridan as his main foils. Bassist Phil Flanigan and drummer Jake Hanna are veterans who know all too well the values of the swing rhythm and the tunes that brought it to prominence. You'd be hard pressed to find a better group anywhere that can play standards as well, or support Hockett's sleek and mellow style the way they do. His original "Blues for Jack," the immortal "Beale Street Blues," and Wingy Manone's "Strange Blues" are more about feeling than technical skills, while "Gone with the Wind," "If Dreams Come True," and the stop-start "Too Close for Comfort" display and define the flawless and consistent fluid dynamics the band employs. At their hottest, the group is playful and utterly swinging on the no-frills take of "Hindustan," the slightly extrapolated "Just One of Those Things," and the cute near bopper "Undecided." Chirillo is a marvelous man to have in the starting five, as his witty, clean, and charming guitar riffs fit perfectly with Hockett and Sheridan during "Undecided." He plays off the two, trading phrases for "Nuages," or jumps in rhythmic cohesion à la Freddie Green for "Reverie," the Bob Wilber tune where Hockett switches to soprano sax. Another piece, "My Ideal," has Hockett's soprano in a bossa nova groove, a twist for this type of group, and reflective of the influence of Getz. Admittedly this is a jam session with not much writing or arranging involved, but a document of a thoroughly professional band having fun in support of an old friend finally given an opportunity to show his wares. If you like the clarinet work of other lesser knowns like Kim Cusak, Chuck Hedges, or the truly great Kenny Davern, you'll easily enjoy this long overdue effort from a wonderful lifetime sideman finally making the first team. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi

Customer Reviews

Hockett on the reeds...

Walking on the River Walk in San Antonio I stopped in my tracks to the sound of “Clarinet Marmalade” filling the air. The Landing All-stars occupied the rest of my night with a fine evening of ensemble jazz that was highlighted by the pure sound of Ron Hockett on the reeds. This album captures that moment and is highly recommended for anyone who wants to lose themselves in the experience that is jazz…

Traditional Jazz lives on

What a pure sound!!! You will love the amazing sound that this album produces. It will leave you wanting more.

Finally Ron, Ron Hockett
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