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Returning to his soul roots

Tight
Tight
By Hank Crawford

Milestone / Fantasy Records: 1996

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This review first appeared in the November 1, 1996 issue of the North County Times.

Going back to his days with Ray Charles 30 years go, alto saxophonist Hank Crawford has always bridged the wall between jazz and R&B.

For his latest recording, Crawford is joined by fellow Ray Charles alumni David "Fathead" Newman on tenor sax and former Blues Brothers Band trumpeter Alan Rubin to create a warm, accessible brand of jazz that will also appeal to listeners who don't think of themselves as jazz fans.

Most of the album consists of covers of smooth jazz and pop songs, like Bobby Womack's "Breezin'" or Hubert Laws' "I Had a Dream," songs that show off Crawford's ability to be sentimental without becoming sappy.

And what a sparsely romantic reading of the old Nat "King" Cole hit, "Mona Lisa." Backed by Danny Mixon's organ and Idris Muhammmad gently brushing his drums, Crawford creates a tender ode to love, seconded by Melvin Sparks on guitar.