Seen on the Scene, Seattle-based trumpeter Jared Hall's second album as a leader, has a lot going for it: tight-knit group unity and tasteful dynamics; bright, technically polished solos by all hands; and engaging tunes by Hall and the late bop master, Tadd Dameron. As a bonus, the acclaimed alto saxophonist Vincent Herring is "on the scene" to share the front line with Hall, elevating the session whenever he assumes the spotlight.
Hall's sound is crisp and clean, his solos sharp and resourceful, as are those of Herring and pianist John Hansen. Some of their best work can be heard on the persuasive "Force for Good," the fourth of Hansen's five bop-leaning compositions. The others are "Thinker," "Coral Way," "Farewell" and the title song, which opens the album on a swinging note wherein a brief intro by bassist Michael Glynn leads to the enticing melody and agile solos by Hansen, Hall and Herring.
Dameron is so close to Hall's heart that he and the ensemble perform the composer's well-known ballad "If You Could See Me Now" not once but twice, the last a more extended version that rings down the curtain (the first is a duo essay by Hall and Hansen). Dameron also wrote the more animated "Mating Call," which precedes Francis Lai's warm-hearted theme from the movie Love Story, the only item on the menu not written by Hall or Dameron. The ensemble adopts a graceful posture on "Thinker," written by Hall to celebrate the birth of his son, before quickening the rhythmic pulse on "Coral Way."
While every number on the album is admirable, pride of place must go to "Force for Good," which swings from start to finish and brings out the best in everyone including the quintet's exemplary rhythm section (Hansen, Glynn, drummer Matt Jorgensen). In sum, a rich and rewarding sophomore enterprise by Hall and his talented teammates.