Jun 14, 2016 01:04 PM EDT | Mike Greenblatt (email@example.com)
Hymn for the Happy Man (Same Island Music) by saxophonist/composer Dan Pratt is buoyed by the presence of bassist Christian McBride who seems to be everywhere at once these days. Pratt plays in McBride's big-band. McBride plays in this new quartet with an ever-charging enthusiasm and groove-laden bump that accentuates the proceedings and moves the music in directions unforeseen. He sounds hungry, as does the rest of the band. This, it must be noted, is a good thing.
It's the fourth recording for the ever-evolving Pratt. Besides the ubiquitous McBride, drummer Gregory Hutchinson and pianist Mike Eckroth also make their considerable presence known in ever increasing concentric circles as the eight tracks fly by in dizzying levels of complexity. Opener "Gross Blues" isn't blues or gross but reeks of Monk. "New Day" is a joyous affirmation of life itself, written from the point of view of someone in love. "River" is almost spooky in its meditative tone.
"Warsaw" proves Pratt is as talented on alto as he is on tenor, a pretty mean feat since he studied baritone/tenor and only picked up alto mere months prior to this happy-man hymn of a CD. I've been digging "Junket" most of all, though, for its incessantly cheerful vibe (check the live version below). A ballroom dance champion friend of mine tells me you cannot rhumba to "Riddle Me Rhumba" but loved the title tune as much as I do. Hey, happiness is relative but-I'll tell you what-between music, literature, cinema, sport and theater, soaking it all up like a human sponge is not a bad way to achieve said happiness. To that end, I definitely consider myself a happy man and this Hymn.. is a worthy soundtrack for my many reasons to live.
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