John Book, Music For America
A musician of high caliber, Pamela Hines will be one of the greats
Pamela Hines was influenced by George Russell, and after hearing her play, you can tell why. The album opens up with an 8-minute rendition of The Beatles' "I Will". Beatles freaks might be scratching their head going "wait a minute, that song is around two minutes, how does she stretch it to the 8 minute mark?" Very well, thank you, and it's a song that shows how she adds her own perspective and vocabulary to the White Album track, by turning it into a rainy morning ballad. Bassist John Lockwood eventually walks in with a solo and one can almost imagine the two speaking to each other, musically, hoping the rain never ends as they say to each other "if you want me to, I will". I'm not a Beatles purist by any means (at least not all the time), and this is one of the best Beatles covers I've ever heard, jazz or otherwise.
The tempo is turned up considerably for "It Could Happen To You", the old standard from And The Angels Sing, where Hines, Lockwood, and drummer Guilotti play that thing until it can't be played, making it swing until the listener is in a deep sweat. "East Of the Sun" has a nice bossa nova groove that also suits Hines very well, going along the way in a Dave Brubeck-like manner while Lockwood and Guilotti become the motor of a powerful car. The narrative between Lockwood and Guilotti in the second half of "East Of The Sun" makes one wish they did this for another minute or so, as it sounds as if they know mama's out of the house, so they have some time to turn the house around. The song fades out eventually, but it would have worked if the recording ended naturally. What the fade does is re-creates the bossa nova vibe of the 1960's, when people were releasing single after single, hoping that their song would be the hit to move a generation. There's a nice feeling to it, where all three are aware of each other and their capabilities, and let things fall where they may.
There are also two Hines compositions featuring the vocals of April Hall, and while I tend to not like vocal tracks on an album of strong instrumentals, Hall is not an interruption. In a way she offers a temporary break from the dynamic of the music, with the shift in emphasis moving from them to her and the words. Traditional jazz never sounded any better, but can be enhanced among musicians of high caliber, of which Pamela Hines is one.