Producer and trumpet player Don Sickler has devoted himself for years to developing leadsheets from the recorded compositions of Elmo Hope, and now the effort has paid off big time in this CD by the Seattle piano trio, New Stories (Marc Seales - piano, Doug Miller - bass, John Bishop - drums).
Elmo Hope was the third member of a trio of close friends and pioneering jazz pianists, the other two members of which were Thelonious Monk and Bud Powell. All three suffered from drug addiction: Monk lived the longest: Powell died at 42 in 1966 and Hope died in 1967 at the age of 43,leaving a legacy of recorded compositions, very few of which were recoverable in written form. This recording reveals that Elmo Hope was an important composer of great depth and originality, rivalling Monk himself, and for that we owe Don Sickler and New Stories an everlasting debt. There is not a weak track on this CD, though there is plenty of variety, including performances by Sickler and alto saxophonist Bobby Porcelli, as well as a gorgeous song - "This Sweet Sorrow", with lyrics composed and sung by Roberta Gambarini. For uptempo excitement, on the other hand, try "Hot Sauce".
Thank goodness for small, independent record companies such as Origin, which can remain viable by releasing niche-audience product like this one. If you love really good jazz you will love this CD.