Jerry Hahn Jazz Guitarist www.jerryhahn.com (913) 424-2784
Jerry Hahn's masterful Midwest synthesis of country, bebop and avant-garde stylings made him an early and enduring influence on a generation of guitar greats, including Pat Metheney, John Scofield, John Abercrombie and countless others. Hahn, however, opted out of the music business and went academic in the early 1970s, setting up an acclaimed jazz-guitar program at Wichita State.
"Time Changes" (Enja) is Hahn's first recording as a leader in two decades, and its title is somewhat deceiving because Hahn's playing really hasn't changed that much. It's still adventurous and idiosyncratic with an internal logic all its own. Hahn has polished and embellished his basic approach a bit but time has done little to alter its personalized appeal.
Hahn provides the bulk of the material, but his choice of covers, tunes by Eric Dolphy, Charles Mingus and Oliver Nelson, demonstrates the advanced level of music. Through it all, Hahn's guitar work is precise without being predictable and eminently entertaining in all contexts.
Soprano saxist David Liebman spices things up considerably on two tunes, particularly on the wide-open title track where he and Hahn pretty much chart their own courses with scintillating solos. Pianist Art Lande appears as a guest on the closing ballad "Chelsea Rose," a melodic mini-masterpiece that provides a suitable sonic denouement to the album.
If you've been waiting for the follow-up to Jerry Hahn's last record, Moses, the one with Merl Sauders and all the fine volume pedal work, your twenty-two year anticipation is over. Hahn has taken two days out of his guitar-lesson schedule and resumed his recording career.
So who says teaching is thankless work? A couple of Hahn's students, one a stock-market high roller, put up cash to send him to New York. There a session arranged by another student (and hot player in his own right), Glenn Alexander, who produced Hahn's Time Changes. With saxist Dave Liebman and ace upright bassist Steve LaSpina checking in on ear-bending originals and some Dolphy and Oliver Nelson tunes. Hahn lets off bluesy, speed-picked bursts of notes that sound like they've been held in abeyance for, well, two decades. "I've been waiting to record for years and years," he says, but I was never around musicians I felt were adequate, and besides, it takes money. As far as touring goes, I haven't figured out a way to break even travelling in the United States."
All of which kept him settled in a 15-year teaching position at Wichita State and led him to a move to his current base in Denver. Hahn has just recently moved back to Portland, OR. Hahn spent some of that time assembling his 1970's Guitar Player columns into two Mel Bay books (now three) and devoted himself to composing. He laughs at the idea that, heard in succession, his two most recent records may suggest two completely different players.
This one is a keeper for the collector of jazz guitar music. An immediate favorite by the on-air personnel at KUVO. Time Changes is, no doubt, receiving plenty of air time on jazz stations throughout the jazz listening world.
Jerry Hahn displays his lusty, lifelong, love affair with the guitar in this new CD. When he was a kid in the mid-50's, he performed regularly on Wichita TV with a country swing band. A self-taught player, he was influenced by Barney Kessell and steal guitarist Buddy Emmons.
But Hahn wanted to improvise. This reviewer's first thought upon hearing the title track was, "Is this guy into Dolphy, or what?" Sure enough, right there in the CD liner notes is the quote, "I've always been a Dolphy fan," and indeed, the Dolphy tune 245 is the second offering of the disc.
The creative Hahn wrote six of the CD's tunes. He and his ensemble reveal splendid covers of others like Mingus' Goodbye Pork Pie Hat, and Quiet Now by Danny Zeitlin. The Oliver Nelson classic, Stolen Moments, should be a top contender for the best cover this year.
The artists who compliment this master guitarist are Steve LaSpina on bass and drummer Jeff Hirshfield. David Liebman plays his soprano sax on two cuts and Phil Markowitz plays piano on four of the tunes. Boulder pianist, Art Lande joins Hahn to colpete the collection with the haunting ballad,
Through March 16: Ginger Baker's Denver Jazz Quartet.
After the mid-life triumph of his last two jazz-inflected recordings, Going Back Home and Falling Off The Roof, Baker, the former Cream drummer, can almost be forgiven for introducing the extended - and now obligatory - drum solo into rock music thirty years ago. His exhibitionism aside, he has always been a particularly musical drummer whose personal sense of swing combines primal directness with gambols of dazzling multi-rhythmic complexity.
Unfortunately, neither Charlie Haden nor Bill Frisell, his Going Home teammates, will be joining him, but he'll have the adventurous young trumpeter Ron Miles and the marvelous, unsung early-fusion guitarist Jerry Hahn on hand.