Mike Hobart Quintet – Evidential
(anotherworldmusic. CD Review by Patrick Hadfield)
I’m generally sceptical of the hype that appears on sleeve notes, so when I read Andy Robson’s comment on Evidential that “…some bands want to make you dance…”, I discounted it. I then realised minutes later that I was actually strutting my stuff around the room. It might be a bit of a stretch to call it dancing, but the funk-beat laid down by drummer Eric Ford and bassist Greg Gottlieb certainly got me moving.
On top of the groove of Evidential, the eponymous opener, Mike Hobart and Chris Lee lay down some classic-sounding hard bop sax and trumpet respectively, while pianist Danny Keane deconstructs the chords to Thelonious Monk’s Evidence, which gives the track its name. It’s the only track to which Keane contributes, the piano stool being taken no less ably by Adrian Reid on the six other tracks.
It’s a good introduction to this record of post-modern hard bop. Some pieces, such as Bellies on the Roof and Mace’s Paces, wouldn’t sound out of place in a classic Jazz Messengers’ set list. Others, like the beautiful rendition of the Mal Waldron standard Soul Eyes and the original Rosie, take it more slowly. Rosie starts with some yearning saxophone from Hobart before Ford, Reid and Gottlieb get another, much slower groove going, Reid’s electric piano ringing like a vibraphone.
The closing number, Bass to Base, has a Latin-feel, and at times brought to mind Art Pepper. It starts slowly, an abstract sax solo over a twinkling piano, before it resolves into another, lighter groove which is interrupted by some rather hard riffing. Lee takes a blistering, slightly manic trumpet solo, followed by Ford’s drum solo, with an insistent wood block beat pushing through to the final riff.
An enjoyable spin through a series of modern bop tunes, thirty years ago this might have been called acid jazz, and thirty years before that hard bop. But it doesn’t matter what you call it – the quality of the music is evidential.