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Hat Trick (1996)

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Nat Reeves

Veteran altoist Jackie McLean was not familiar with pianist Junko Onishi's playing until shortly before recording this quartet CD (which also includes bassist Nat Reeves and drummer Lewis Nash), but he was apparently pleased with how she sounded. Onishi's bop-oriented style (which sometimes uses more complex chord voicings) fits in well with McLean, and the results are generally memorable. Jackie McLean, one of the few hard bop stylists to embrace aspects of the avant-garde, sounds quite advanced on the straight-ahead program. His distinctive tone is unchanged from the 1960s, and he still displays all of the fire and enthusiasm he had in his early days. McLean really digs into his two durable originals ("Little Melonae" and "Bluesnik"), five standards, Mal Waldron's "Left Alone" and Onishi's "Jackie's Hat" (based on "Sweet Georgia Brown"), making this outing into something quite special. Recommended. ~ Scott Yanow