The New Hang
Don Braden's The New Hang (HighNote) crosses an old-fashioned tenor-organ-drums trio with a hard-bop quintet. The instrumentation would be that of the former if not for the addition of trombonist Conrad Herwig on seven of the 10 tracks. When Herwig's on board, the band typically delivers first-rate Messenger-like hard bop. The trombone-less tracks include a tenor and organ duet where Braden warmly plays the melody of "When I Fall in Love" before stirring things up in a lengthy tag. And one trio cut features a slow-moving melody over a quick triple-meter drum pattern to set up a prodigious, Breckerish tenor solo.
But Braden's up-tempo originals and a Herwig barnburner provide ideal settings for the two hornmen to engage in some stomping, straightahead blowing. Herwig's "Code Blue" could be a handful even for a saxophonist (not Braden, however), but presents no problem for the composer and his agile horn. Organist Kyle Koehler provides an earthy ambiance for the proceedings, as well as doing double duty as both keyboardist and bassist. Drummer Cecil Brooks III provides spark and color.