After many years of relative obscurity, Elmo Hope is getting at least some of this due. A contemporary of Thelonious Monk, Hope long was overshadowed by that askew genius. With some overcorrection, he of late has been compared in greatness with Monk. That might be over-reaching, but the point, really, is that comparisons aren't as useful as plain appreciation of an undoubtedly great musician's accomplishments.
In fact, as Don Sickler relates on his liner notes to this fine album, Hope and Monk, along with Bud Powell, were running mates in their early adulthood. The drum great, Philly Joe Jones, played and recorded with Hope, and also was long a champion of his music. Among those in the know, Hope was as fine a composer of jazz tunes as any alive at the time. However, the New Yorker died too young, in 1967, at the age of only 43, and his legacy suffered.
Seattle's fine, fine New Stories trio ó Marc Seales (piano), John Bishop (drums), and Doug Miller (bass) ó pay tribute to Hope on this album. They have brought on board some heavy hitters from around the country, including the very fine New York alto saxophonist Bobby Porcelli, ace trumpeter and flugelhornist Don Sickler, bassist Peter Washington, and drummer Kenny Washington.
Also on the recording are two lesser-known lights, vocalist Roberta Gam-barini, on one track, and pianist Ronnie Matthews on one other.
In an inspired and touching tribute to Hope, Sickler brought along his friend and collaborator on a project of creating a book of Hope compositions, Bertha Hope, the wife of Elmo. Bertha Hope plays piano, too, and she contributes effectively on three tracks, here.
The album has many of the most high-ly regarded of Hope's tunes, including "Dee-Dah," "Nieta," "A Kiss For My Love," "Eyes So Beautiful," and "Stars Over Marrakesh." All are convincingly played, and the ensemble does a fine job of making a case for Hope's continued relevance.