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April 2005

John Hines
In the Pocket
Capri Records

Trombonist John Hines claims "in the pocket" means "that moment in music where everything lines up, fits neatly into place." Ask trumpeter/flugelhornist Hugh Ragin, he'll claim it's the "spirituality of the molecules." But then, he's collaborated with Sun Ra. Their claims bring us to what might have been a dual approach to In the Pocket (Capri). Hines and his combo are based in Denver; guest Hugh Ragin is now teaching there, yet he fits in as though he had been playing with Hines for years. Their front-line highlights: "I Could Write a Book," with Hines carrying lead and Ragin filling gaps with his muted horn. The reverse doesn't happen, however, as Ragin leaves few gaps. Coltrane's tender "Central Park West" provides good lines for 'bone and trumpet, arranged by Hines. "Hard Times" has a nice gospel feel thanks to a Hammond C3 organ. Best track: "More Than a Friend," a gorgeous original by pianist Michael Pagan, who arranged it. It features Hines and Ragin at their best, the latter on flugelhorn. Ironically, Pagan's solo is weak. The molecules are there, but not the spirituality.

Originally published in April 2005
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