Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Drummer Dana HallDana, you've logged many man-hours as a sideman, working for jazz greats such as the late tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson, vocalist Maria Schneider, and pianist Kenny Barron. With the soon to be released, "Into the Light", your debut album, you'll show a wider audience what you're made of. Your resume' is too enormous too talk about so I'll just comment on "Into the Light", which will be on my favorite album of 2009 list.

Do you value jazz bloggers and critics take on your work? I hope you will take my comments to heart. "Into the Light" is a fun coming out party. I bet your band-mates trumpeter Terell Stafford, tenor sax player Tim Warfield, bassist Rodney Whitaker and piano player Bruce Barth would've done the gig for free if you had ask them. You know the quality of talent needed to make a good jazz album. Neither musician had to change the way they play. Their styles blended with yours, and you engaged and challenged them from start to finish.

On the opener, "I Have a Dream", Tim Warfield ate the changes like a home cooked meal. When Stafford soloed, he made my car speakers smoke. Whitaker, and Barth, both noted swingers, did not make a fuss. They kept time and guided the band through the course that you mapped out.

Whitaker played a lovely solo on "For Rockelle", which he wrote. (It appeared the bassist borrowed heavily from the structure of "My Funny Valentine.) The title cut "Into the Light" was a free jazz field trip. I got lost in the various tempo changes, and it was the most reckless I ever heard Warfield blow. You slugged it out with Warfield on "Jabali". You and Barth had an heated improvisational debate on "Tin Soldier". Whenever you soloed, Dana, I heard drummers Joe Chambers, Art Blakey, and Jeff "Tain" Watts influence on you. You ought to be proud of this debut album. It is almost flawless.

Origin Records will release "Into the Light Tuesday November 17, 2009.
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