Jeff Hackworth: Just for You

Jeff Hackworth’s sax technique is not of the glossy, fluttery variety employed on so many wannabe Kenny G soprano recordings. On Just For You (Da Capo Records 51001; 48:57), the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra veteran showcases a technique which emphasizes tone and breath, cutting through rather than flitting above its background. This technique works well in intimate contrast with acoustic piano, snaking over the slight bossa nova of “Forgotten Whispers.” In places, like the spiraling, bass-pumped “Avenue Jam,” Hackworth’s play even takes on a reedy, harmonica-like quality. However, much of this inventive style is wasted on the type of typical, keyboard-driven R&B arrangements that we’ve heard many times before (“Night Glide,” “Just For You”). These nicely produced tracks, engineered by Spyro Gyra vet Larry Swist, don’t serve Hackworth’s technique nearly as well as the more intimate “Blue Rendezvous,” which gives the saxist space for some cinema-dramatic interplay with Pat George’s acoustic piano.