"The Heart of the Matter" [Big Bridge]
2.5 stars (out of four)
The heart of the matter indeed.
If the past four weeks have been anything in this city, they’ve been the period of great Buffalo tenor players and the most basic and highest protein jazz. With the great tenor saxophonist Houston Person in the Jazz at the Albright-Knox outdoor series, the Masten Jazz Festival and Pine Grill Reunion celebration that’s only a part of it.
Last week we discovered that a superb young tenor player from Buffalo is giving the jazz world his musical memoirs. That was James Brandon Lewis’ “Days of Freeman,” a remarkable jazz remembrance of a Buffalo childhood spent listening to hip-hop.
Here’s another tenor player from Buffalo who credits Buffalo with his basic musical education – in this case playing blue-collar jazz with organ trios in blue-collar Buffalo clubs – with providing his grounding as a jazz tenor saxophonist. And in his quartet is a sterling guitarist who spent years with Dizzy Gillespie and, in fact, first hooked up with the Gillespie band for a Buffalo gig in Shea’s Buffalo. That’s Ed Cherry, an exemplary player for this exact kind of jazz group.
This is timeless jazz we’d have been as happy to hear in 1962 as now. Hackworth plays a passel of originals, “That Old Black Magic” and “September Song,” and, in the realm of delicious, second-tier Ellingtonia, “Mr. Gentle and Mr. Cool” by Duke Ellington and Shorty Baker.
Hackworth’s organ player here is Kyle Koehler and his drummer is Victor Ector.
This is the kind of music that Pine Grill memorial concerts are happy to remember, even if Hackworth – who’s long lived in New York – wasn’t involved.