Tom Hook is best known as a fluent and good-humored stride pianist and singer. In his career he was a founding member of the New Red Onion Jazz Babies, worked with Bill Allred’s Good Time Jazz band, was an important part of the Black Dog Jazz Band, spent time as a stage performer, and also played with rock groups in addition to being a fixture in New Orleans.
When Rachel Domber of Arbors Records offered him the chance to make his dream album, Hook put together a continually surprising CD called 62. He gathered together a four-piece rhythm section that includes guitarist Danny Caron, bassist Bobby Durham, and drummer Ed Metz, plus a five-piece horn section, five strings, and five female vocalists. While he plays piano, the emphasis is on Hook’s vocals and his wide range of musical tastes, most of which focuses on early 1960s pop music; thus the CD’s title. Hook’s singing includes two collaborations (“Buona Sera” and “That Old Black Magic”) with Cristina Perez that find them coming close to sounding like Louis Prima and Keely Smith, and songs associated with Tom Waits, Big Joe Turner, and Frank Sinatra (“Come Fly With Me”). Other numbers include “Bounce Me Brother With A Solid Four” with a female vocal trio emulating the Andrews Sisters, “At The Swing Cat’s Ball” (which gives four of the horn players short solos), Percy Mayfield’s “My Jug And I,” the odd spoken word piece “If I Hear A Sound,” and the closing “Here’s To Life.”
While I wish there had been more jazz on 62, this is an intriguing effort that casts fresh light on Tom Hook’s musical talents.
62 (Arbors ARCD 19643, 13 selections, TT = 52:32) www.arborsrecords.com
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