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Hank and Frank by Hank Jones/Frank Wess

Recorded in 2003, this session features two octogenarian jazz masters, one of whom has been recognized as such by the National Endowment for the Arts, and one who deserves to be. Pianist Hank Jones was awarded this status in 1989, deservedly so after bringing the art of jazz piano to a high degree of sophistication. For Frank Wess, playing a major role in establishing the flute in jazz and leading the Count Basie reed section for ten years are only two of many accomplishments in a sixty year career. That Frank Foster, Wess' partner in the Basie Band, has been inducted into that august assembly and Frank has not is beyond my comprehension. There is a tendency in the press and Hollywood to focus on jazz performers with more colorful lifestyles (case in point--a movie staring Josh Hartnett as Chet Baker is in production) but the NEA should know better--certainly Hank Jones does not fall into that category. Go figure.

In any case, this is a fine recording. When asked by a friend what it was like, my immediate response was "just what you'd expect." This was not intended as derogatory in any way because what I expect from these artists is classic, sophisticated, smooth, (in the true sense-not smooth jazz!), swinging, straight down the middle jazz from consummate professionals. This is exactly what Hank and Frank deliver. No surprises, no disappointments: Four standards, one bop classic, three Wess originals, and one by Jones. Warm, Lester Young-based tenor, and elegant, incisive flute (Very Thought Of You and Something Went Wrong) from Wess, lovely piano work from Jones, and excellent support from Webber, Rocker, and Lushak, the latter delivering some warm-toned solos of his own, demonstrating that he is included on merit, not just because he is the founder of Lineage Records!

These guys aren't getting any younger so we should cherish whatever they can put out. There is no better example of what the mainstream of jazz is all about.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Hank Jones/Frank Wess
  • CD Title: Hank and Frank
  • Genre: Straight-Ahead / Classic
  • Year Released: 2006
  • Record Label: Lineage Records
  • Rating: Five Stars
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