With his new release, "Scenes from a Song," guitarist John Hart emerges from a four-year recording hiatus with a new trio and a CD that further fortifies him as an artist deserving wider recognition.
A fixture on the New York music scene for 17 years, Hart’s music career includes credits as a sideman spanning many musical genres and as a bandleader with four albums. In recent years, his association with saxophonist Chris Potter established the foundation for the John Hart Quartet. Now, Hart has pared his ensemble down to bassist Bill Moring and new drummer Tim Horner and has released his first trio recording since 1992.
On "Scenes from a Song," the new trio shows remarkable communication and timing in a recording of seven originals, along with five standards from Billy Strayhorn, Duke Ellington, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Kurt Weill and Joni Mitchell. Hart has more room to display his dazzling chops and his deft touch. He takes full advantage in a series of cuts that range from the funky Mike Stern-ish "Slacker’s Hideaway," to the searing "Obelisk", to the touching solo acoustic rendition of Ellington’s "Melancholia," to the boppish feel of "Trio Slant," and to a splendid rendition of Kurt Weill’s "September Song."
Hart explores many depths, showcasing lyrical balance on the title track and on Mitchell’s "Both Sides Now," while Strayhorn’s "Passion Flower" captures Hart’s subtle sensibilities.
Hart has loads of talent, from nimble solo phrases to the careful restraint and chordal voicings of ballads. While not groundbreaking, "Scenes From a Song" is a comfortable listen from a lesser-known artist who has complete and pleasing command of his musical vehicle.