Thursday, May 18, 2006

More Frank Hewitt

I have a favorite Stephen King tale, "The Breathing Method", that includes a scene where the narrator begins to read some books off the library shelves of a strange gentlemen's club (the kind where they drink brandy and play snooker, not a strip joint) central to the story. He decides they're among the greatest American novels, but he's never heard of the author and can't find anything else by him, nor can he locate the publisher. It's like the books came from nowhere, or from a parallel universe. (Hey, it is Stephen King.)

I feel a little bit like that listening to "Four Hundred Saturdays" from Smalls Records, the second CD from the late Frank Hewitt I've purchased recently, this one in a quintet with two saxophonists as opposed to a trio setting. The guy is simply one of the finer jazz pianists I've heard and the sax, bass and drums work on this from Chris Byars (tenor), Mike Mullins (alto), Ari Roland and Jimmy Lovelace are outstanding to boot. Four songs, recorded live (and well), all clocking in near 15 minutes, with lots of stellar improvising. Their version of Dizzy Gillespie's "Manteca" is fantastic. I don't think Monk ever played it. But you can get an idea of what he'd of sounded like listening to Hewitt.

I enjoyed Luke Kaven's liner notes excoriating the music industry for ignoring Hewitt when he was alive, and I'm glad Kaven and Smalls went so far as to create a record label to make sure he's finally heard by me and other folks. He should be.

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