8 Songs, 38 Minutes

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Ratings and Reviews

trospero ,

A solid addition to the Hassell catalog, with a caveat.

This recording has as its foundation the concept of Pentimento - an idea borrowed from painting in which the piece is the result of many layers building on each other to make a final image. While in concept I feel Hassell has succeeded in crafting an album illustrating this idea (which, admittedly, is pretty much how he has worked for decades), I'm not sure that all of the pieces are successful works, sonically. I listened to 'Pentimento' many times before realizing why I wasn't enjoying the work as much as 2009's 'Last Night The Moon Came Dropping Its Clothes In The Street', for example: Hassell's unique trumpet melodies are underrepresented on the album. Only a few of the tracks offer Jon's signature trumpet work, and the ones that don't are the poorer for it. In some ways, this feels like an album put together by a group of musicians on Hassell's behalf, and the star of the project barely makes an appearance.
I'm not saying this isn't a good recording, but I'm finding it less satisfying as a whole than many of Hassell's prior works. The opening track, 'Dreaming' is as original and engaging as anything in Hassell's catalog, and the closing track 'Ndeya' is a close second, but few pieces in between come close. 'Pastoral Vassant' is an enjoyable listen, with its references to 'Open Secret' from 'Maarifa Street', and 'Slipstream' does a good job of demonstrating the Pentimento idea without becoming "cluttered" (and features a nice bit of classic Hassell trumpet at the end), and 'Manga Scene' has quite a bit to offer, but most of these songs - when compared to recordings like 'Maarifa Street' don't shine quite like earlier works: where 'Maarifa Street' (or 'Fascinoma', for example) are albums whose pieces derive their energy from Hassell's trumpet constructions, 'Pentimento' is more like a lush stage set for the guest performer who can only stop by for a couple of cameo moments.

Its not a bad work, but it doesn't entirely satisfy. After a 9 year wait, I had hoped for more. If you favor albums like Fourth World Vol. 1 and Fascinoma, then this one might not appeal to you as much, but if you appreciate albums like City and its remixes, this is more aligned with that style of music.

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