Jerry Hahn – Time Changes

'Time Changes' By Jerry Hahn

Blues-Jazz Guitar Par Excellence: Jerry Hahn’s Album ‘Time Changes’

It must have been back in the late 1990s. I couldn’t sleep that night so I was watching TV. I ended up zapping into a channel where they just played music and “Jerry Hahn – Time Changes” was on. I never heard of Jerry Hahn before but I was intrigued by what I heard. I guess the reason for that is because Jerry’s jazz guitar incorporates lots of blues elements. As a matter of fact, I think it is fair to say that a couple of the tracks on this album are actually “jazzed” blues numbers.

Well, a few days after that, I went out and bought the CD and I occasionally listen to it. And every time I do so there is something new to discover. I guess the older I get, the more receptive and sensitive I become for the all the nuances that I had previously simply ‘overheard’.

Here is the list of artists and tracks:

Jerry Hahn – guitar
Steve LaSpina – bass
Jeff Hirshfield – drums
David Liebman – soprano sax
Phil Markowitz – piano
Art Lande – piano

1. Time Changes, 4:29
2. 245, 5:08
3. The Method, 3:38
4. Quiet Now, 5:56
5. Blues For Allyson, 4:34
6. Oregon, 5:16
7. Goodbye Pork Pie Hat, 6:04
8. Hannah Bear, 5:38
9. Stolen Moments, 5:17
10. Chelsea Rose, 4:33

Here is an excellent write-up by Jazz critic Chuck Berg covering all the relevant details around this album:

In human affairs, the only constant is change. And so it is with Jerry Hahn, the galvanizing guitarist from Wichita, Kansas, whose seminal recordings in the 1960s and early 1970s with John Handy, Gary Burton, and the Jerry Hahn Brotherhood helped reconfigure the contemporary jazz guitar landscape.

Though, his arresting amalgams of jazz, blues and country were important influences for such neo-modernists as Pat Metheny, John Abercrombie and John Scofield, Hahn, shortly after the release of the much lauded “Jerry Hahn Brotherhood” (Columbia;1970), returned to his hometown to raise a family and establish Wichita State University’s jazz guitar curriculum.

During his tenure at Wichita, there were calls to return to the big show. Eschewing these, Jerry instead focused on extended sabbatical devoted to teaching, playing on the local scene and writing “Jerry Hahn’s Guitar Seminar” for Guitar Player magazine. In 1986, however, compulsion to play full-time led to Portland and associations which such Oregonians such as bassist David Friesen. In 1993, Denver’s active jazz arena attracted the guitarist to the foothills of the Colorado Rockies.

Now, with a spanking fresh recording, his first as a leader in over 20 years, the redoubtable Hahn poised to take his rightful place among the cadre of cutting-edge guitarists that includes the aforementioned Metheny, Abercrombie and Scofield as well as such bright lights as Bill Friesell and Mike Stern. Jerry’s playing reflects the warmth of an engaging personality. And whether the conversation is in B-flat or in English, there’s an honesty and humanistic concern that’s completely disarming – and involving. Jerry Hahn just might be the Will Rogers of modern jazz guitar!

One hears echoes of a rich litany of experience. His first steady gig was an a teenager in a TV country swing band that beamed out over the mid-1950s airwaves from Wichita. There’s also a hint of Barney Kessel who became his first big jazz influence when steel guitarist Buddy Emmons suggested that if the youngster really wanted to improvise, he should go out and buy a copy of “To Swing Or Not To Swing.”

Jerry, though, is and essentially self-taught player. Like Robert Redford’s Roy Hobbs, Hahn is a “natural” with his own unique style. At its core is Hahn’s lean yet luxuriantly singing signature sound. “It’s a jazz sound with some technology added,” Jerry notes matter-of-factly. “There’s a delay set on a chorus on one side of the mix; the other side is just reverb. Basically, my idea is to go for a sound that’s like a jazz guitar but fattened up.” It’s a style that’s rooted in the bedrock of blues. “To a large extent, I really consider myself a jazz player who loves the blues.” Hahn, though, has inscribed his blues as a musically sophisticated and yet immediately appealing and accessible personal voice.

“Time Changes”, gains greatly from the interactive participation of soprano saxophonist David Liebman, bassist Steve LaSpina, drummer Jeff Hirshfield and pianist Phil Markowitz. The session resonates with ESP-like simpatico and a rare degree of empathy.

‘Time Changes’, the title track, is an exuberantly open ended romp with acrobatic spins by LaSpina, Liebman and Hahn. “There’s no bar lines. I had a melody and a bass line. But on the blowing parts, there’re no rules.” Here, each soloist establishes the rules of the improvisational game.

“I’ve always been a Dolphy fan,” notes Jerry. “Someone gave me a chart of ‘245’ and I worked out a guitar arrangement that altered some of the changes to give it a different sound.” With the Dolphy ballad, we have an opportunity to so sample a more reflective side of Jerry’s multifaceted musical persona. Hahn’s “The Method” was inspired by daughter Chelsea Rose. Set loosely over “Rhythm” changes, Jerry’s line sets a bouncy jaunt featuring the leader’s burning guitar and Markowitz’s surging piano. “Quiet Now” is s shimmering balladic setting by Denny Zeitlin.

One of the most evocative tracks is “Blues for Allyson,” penned for another of Jerry’s daughters. Right behind his “Oregon,” a non-programmatic yet poignant line that Jerry wrote just prior to his move to Portland. Jerry’s penchant for blues-with-a-twist is reflected in two standards from the contemporary jazz repertory, Charlie Mingus’ heartfelt tip-of-the-hat to tenor saxophone legend Lester Young called “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat,” and Oliver Nelson’s simmering “Stolen Moments.” In each, Hahn shapes the material to his needs, thus inscribing his own stylistic seal.

“Hannah Bear,” named for another of Jerry’s daughters, is an elastic blues head with plenty of stretch. “Dave’s been a friend for many years. We used to teach together at Jamey Aebersold camps back in the 1970s and play together in the evening faculty concerts.” Here, the sky is lit with Hahn’s and Liebman’s incandescent arcs. “Chelsea Rose” brings the curtain down with a gentle, melodic gesture that again underscores Jerry’s compelling balladry.

“I think the album is fairly representative of my musical philosophy in that there’re some blues, some free things, some ballads, as well as some chordal work and solos.” Indeed, it’s a mix that each and every moment is right on the money. It’s also a clarion calling card announcing the return to the big show of one of contemporary music’s singular voices – guitarist Jerry Hahn!

Credits: Chuck Berg, University of Kansas, Jazz Times; Jazz Educators Journal

“Time Changes” by Jerry Hahn is an “all-rounder” in a sense that both, fans who just try to get their feet wet in ‘jazzy waters’ as well as matured aficionados can equally appreciate the music. I can therefore strongly recommend it to absolute anybody who loves guitar music, and I guarantee that you won’t get disappointed. You can buy this CD via the Guitar Shop.

Godspeed.

Published date: May 29th, 2013 by Ulrich Peise

Leave a Reply

*