How Little We Know
Featuring; Jeff Hackworth tenor saxophone Norman Simmons piano Peter Washington bass Chip White drums Peter Hand guitar Produced by Houston Person Engineered, mixed and mastered by Rudy Van Gelder at Van Gelder Studios, Englewood Cliffs NJ liner notes by Bob Porter WBGO... This delightful album of straight-ahead jazz is played by a tenor saxophonist whose name may be new to you but whose methods are part of a long, tried-and-true tradition. Jeff Hackworth plays in the spirit of master tenor players such as Gene Ammons, Stanley Turrentine and Houston Person. Jeff was born in 1957 in Ohio but raised in Buffalo, New York. Buffalo was responsible for bringing us talent such as Don Menza, Lonnie Smith and Spider Martin among many others. Jeff has worked around Buffalo with an organ trio and spent time on the road in such diverse settings as the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra (Buddy Morrow edition) and the band of Matt "Guitar" Murphy, who served Memphis Slim so well for so long. While in Buffalo, Jeff came in contact with musicians and fans that frequented the Pine Grill. The Pine Grill was remembered as a place to hear the major black talent of the day (50s & 60s) but it had disappeared by the time Jeff came on the scene. While the clubs he worked were a step or two removed from the heyday, Jeff was able to absorb the tradition of how to play for that demanding audience. The education he gleaned from that experience has remained with him to this day. Houston Person put together the rhythm section of New York-based pros, all of whom are well known in their own right and need no introduction here. Person and Jeff collaborated on the material and while much of it is familiar, none of it is overdone. Teddy Edwards wrote "Sunset Eyes", Duke Ellington wrote the bluesy, "I'm Just A Lucky So And So" and Buddy Johnson wrote "They All Say I'm The Biggest Fool", which is given an exemplary reading here. The remainder is from the vast repository of the Great American Songbook. While in Buffalo, Jeff Hackworth cut a CD with an organ trio but this effort is more likely to bring his talent before a wider audience. Jeff is living in the New York City area at this writing and is filling his time working club dates and backing pop singers while waiting for an opening. I'm confident such a break will happen since talent such as his is bound to rise to the top. BOB PORTER WBGO review from jazzchicago.net by Brad Walseth... Tenor saxophonist Jeff Hackworth grew up in Buffalo, New York, which many people might not know has a long tradition of having an active jazz scene. Hackworth cut his teeth playing for demanding club audiences in the area, as well as stints on the road with hard-driving bandleaders Matt "Guitar" Murphy Buddy Morrow (in his version of the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra). The traditions passed down to him, as well as his rigorous apprenticeship, have served to produce a player whose style and sound exhibits both charm as well as technique. Hackworth is now located in New York City and has recently released a fine album of standards called "How Little We Know." Produced by Houston Person and engineered by the legendary jazz engineer, Rudy Van Gelder, the album is a throwback to the days when musicians played "Songs." Not that this is soppy, old-fashioned stuff. Person assembled a strong supporting cast of real players for his protégé, including Norman Simmons on piano, Peter Washington on bass and Chip White on drums. Guitarist Peter Hand joins the core group on several cuts, and the ensemble plays wonderfully together, providing an energetic backdrop for their session leader. With a big, bold sound without being overbearing, Hackworth's sound has been compared to sax players like Stanley Turrentine, Gene Ammons, and Person himself. He can growl or play it silky smooth, but it is Hackworth's strong sense of melody that really stands out. His song choices range from Teddy Edwards' "Sunset Eyes," Buddy Johnson's "They All Say I'm the Biggest Fool," to Hammerstein & Kern's "Why Do I Love You," and Duke's bluesy "I'm Just a Lucky So and So," proving the man has some great taste and an enviable repertoire. Although a description of this music as straight-ahead jazz might tend to dissuade some listeners, do not be fooled: this is not only exciting music, but it is one hell of a good time to listen to. The presentation is so consistently good throughout - from the catchy opener, 'Sunset Eyes' to the memorable version of 'Don't Take Your Love From Me' that closes the album, and as such, it is difficult to choose highlights. The title track swings seductively, while 'Biggest Fool' envisions a smoky lounge, a bottle of scotch and heartache. Simmons is a consummate pro on the keys, and Hand also shines here in support; I am especially enamored of the tunes the guitarist appears on. Through it all the band is completely in sync, and Hackworth swings like a demon on uptempo charts like 'My Lean Baby,' and 'All or Nothing at All;' burns on the Latin-tinged 'How Am I to Know;' and seduces on the ballads like 'Tenderly' and 'This is Always.' Perhaps his take on the bouncy 'Why Do I Love You' sums up the charm of this up-and-coming young saxophonist's approach with it's happy-go-lucky strain that belies the talent underneath: Jeff Hackworth takes compelling songs and through his talent and experience makes it seem easy. Thanks for the great album, Jeff, tell the bartender I'll have mine on the rocks. Review from jazzcdreviews.com...by Tony Rogers Tenor sax player Jeff Hackworth honed his craft playing clubs in his native Buffalo and on the road with such bandleaders as Matt "Guitar" Murphy. He's previously recorded an organ trio album but it's clear his latest release, "How Little We Know," is meant to be his break-out effort. Produced by tenorman Houston Person and engineered by the legendary Rudy Van Gelder, "How Little We Know" is a collection of such chestnuts as "I'm Just A Lucky So and So" and "All or Nothing At All." Hackworth has a big, warm sound that's been compared to Gene Ammons and Stanley Turrentine, and while there's little in the way of explosive soloing here, Hackworth knows how to caress a melody and let a great song speak for itself. He's also an unselfish player who's content to leave plenty of solo space for his able bandmates - pianist Norman Simmons, bassist Peter Washington, drummer Chip White and the aptly-named guitarist Peter Hand. The result is a thoroughly enjoyable straight-ahead album that, even in it's black-and-white cover photography is reminiscent of jazz around, say, 1958. But who cares? All I can tell you is, "How Little We Know" has been on my CD player a lot more lately than some of the hipper releases that have come through the transom. -Tony Rogers.