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Jeff Hedberg: The Summer Knows

The Summer Knows (BluJazz) begs some questions. Is Jeff Hedberg a flugelhorn player who sings or a singer who happens to play the horn? Is he trying to cash in on the sensitive vocal/horn styles of Chet Baker, or is Hedberg a convincing successor? Motivation cannot be addressed; that’s strictly P.R. But talent can be analyzed. Right now the 25-year-old from Chicago is a work in progress, but his debut album is promising. His horn playing is uneven, sprinkled over seven of 11 tracks, but it shows a warm tone and impressive fluency. But his singing is very good. When he tries to swing, he has the best luck with “Let’s Get Lost.” He can’t be blamed if he has the same fragile phrasing that Baker had on ballads, and they’re the strong points including “Cry Me a River,” the heartfelt reading of the title track and by far the best tune on the album-playing and singing-“My Funny Valentine.” Now that has to be an accident.

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