CD Review-SCOTT YANOW Jazz Journalist/Historian

Scott Yanow

Don Hanson
Echoes Of Light

Don Hanson is a talented alto and tenor-saxophonist who does not hide the fact that he is a Christian. Unlike some other artists, while not being shy to express his beliefs, he performs high-quality jazz that will appeal to the secular and devout alike.

Hanson grew up in New York City, began playing clarinet at 11 and alto at 13, and was a professional musician by the time he was 16. He studied with Jimmy Giuffre, Sonny Stitt and Jimmy Heath, graduated from NYU, earned a Master’s from Queens College, and has since worked with many top jazz and r&b performers in addition to leading his own groups.

On Echoes of Light, a set of seven of his originals, the saxophonist is joined by pianist Shingo Kano, drummer Reggie Nicholson, his son Don Hanson II. on bass and, on five of the numbers, his daughter Joy Hanson. Throughout the set there are many fine solos from Don Hanson (who has his own sound and swinging style on alto and tenor) and Kano with excellent and sympathetic support contributed by Don Hanson II. and Nicholson.

The enjoyable set begins with the warm melody of “Echoes Of Light,” an easy-listening number that introduces the band and is filled with melodic and creative playing. “Do You Know” features Joy Hanson singing a straight ahead blues, displaying a high and pleasing voice. “Dawn Of A New Man” has the rhythm section playing a bit funky and is notable for a strong solo by the leader and his tradeoff with Nicholson. Joy Hanson is showcased on the ballad “He’s Right There” which goes into a surprising double-time section near its conclusion that has the singer and the saxophonist interacting with each other.

The infectious “His Love” features a Latin tinge, shifts grooves a few times, and features Joy Hanson at her best. She also sings on the jazz waltz “Jesus Is” which at one point has her wordless singing blending in well with the playing of her father. The set concludes with the optimistic “New Life Today” which includes a passionate solo from the saxophonist.

Don Hanson’s Echoes Of Light will appeal to a large audience due to its colorful melodies and grooves, the excellent musicianship, and the obvious sincerity of its leader.

Scott Yanow, jazz journalist/historian