Sarah Hanahan – Among Giants (ENG review)

Blue Engine Records – Available
Sarah Hanahan – Among Giants

In the jazz world, there are names of young artists who are increasingly making themselves heard, such as Sarah Hanahan, who presents this new album, *Among Giants*. This album, in many ways, reminds me of certain works by Erik Satie, no doubt because of her way of bouncing silences within her compositions to better introduce an instrument. Here, in the form of a quartet, she is accompanied by the excellent musicians Marc Cary (piano), Nat Reeves (double bass), and Jeff “Tain” Watts (drums). Working with Reeves, Watts, and Cary was a natural choice for Hanahan, who describes the rehearsals leading up to the album as “incredibly fun and easy.” It’s easy to understand why: Reeves and Watts have been playing together for over thirty years and have revolutionized the bass-drum connection. And Marc Cary, with his many years with Betty Carter and Abbey Lincoln, has developed one of the most dynamic concepts of accompanying and supporting a soloist. “As we worked all four together to learn my pieces and play standards, each person contributed musical ideas that ended up shaping each track as you hear it on the album. Everyone brought their unique individual touches while deeply listening to each other and playing as one, that’s what truly makes this album special,” she describes.

As impressive as saxophonist Céline Bonacina, although the style is different, the love of rhythms and melodies is definitely there. Sarah Hanahan evidently draws her inspiration from both classical and folk music. This album is also a passionate declaration of her commitment to advancing music while honoring the past. “New voices have pushed, pulled, and conceptualized where jazz is today, but through it all, bebop has remained constant and relevant,” Hanahan states. “This is what we call lineage and tradition, and that was my inspiration for the album. I want to pay tribute to my mentors and the greats who came before me, but I also want to show who I am and the voice I have to bring to this lineage.” If the introductory track “Welcome” may seem confusing, it’s probably to shuffle the deck in relation to the following tracks on this album. It’s interesting to see a young, talented artist making such strong musical propositions. The melodic sense isn’t everything; Sarah Hanahan also has a very striking style, a way of attacking notes both firmly and gently that makes her recognizable. One is guided with a certain form of wonder until the last track “We Bop,” a joyful piece full of humor, humor that hides real complexity. But it must be said that this quartet is truly brilliant, if not impressive.

It’s yet another of those albums you will certainly be tempted to share with your friends, that you will let play endlessly on your turntables, because there is a form of renewal here, a fascinating musical writing, magnificent arrangements in their simplicity and effectiveness, and above all, because you love supporting emerging and talented artists. It doesn’t take much more to make this album one of our “Essentials”!

Thierry De Clemensat
USA correspondent – Paris-Move and ABS magazine
Editor in chief Bayou Blue Radio, Bayou Blue News

PARIS-MOVE, June 24th 2024

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