Although fresh and inventive in itself, the group here brings to mind Miles Davis’ mid-career period, which featured Wayne Shorter. As heard, Hagans’ trumpet is, alternately, soaring and melancholy, commanding and subdued. Copland contributes four originals and arranges three standards, always seeking new directions. Together, they do bring out the best in the other
Rounding out the quartet is the superb combination of Drew Gress, bass, from New York, and Jochen Ruckert, drums, originally from Germany. The recording was made in Germany after a tour in 2006. This is Hagans' second record date with Copland, the first being Beautiful Lily, released in 2005.
Hagans began with the Kenton and Herman bands in the seventies. Since then he has performed with the best. We see Davis' stamp on Hagans’ style right away in "See You Again." On this, he launches his horn into a torrent of sound, the tumult stirred up by Ruchert’s roiling drums and Copland’s frenetic piano. The mood quiets in the mysterious "Not Even the Rain," piano and trumpet taking solos that are pensive and probing.
Another Copland original, "Sweet Peach Tree," is certainly a highlight with Hagans going once more at breakneck speed; Copland again matching him in intensity.
The last three, classics, superbly anchor the CD. Sad and mournful is "You Don’t Know What Love Is," while "Alone Together" is intense, Hagans sailing into the first buoyant then choppy tempo provided by drums and bass. Also listen to Copland as he softly backs Gress’ bass solo.
The last track, "Stella By Starlight," is also a stunner. Hagans brings out his Miles’ mute, adding his own embellishments to make this masterpiece of melancholy a stunner.
All together Alone Together is most impressive.