Hank Crawford: Tight

For Tight, producer Bob Porter and Hank Crawford decided on the expanded background offered by two trumpets, tenor and baritone. The relaxed settings for Crawford’s unmistakable alto, by virtue of his arrangements, may recall the late Atlantic period and the Kudu formula. We might find ourselves deceived by the melodies and polished frameworks of these ballads and blues, for their’s is a lyrical simplicity of the irrepressible melodist with a horn choir. When guitarist Melvin Sparks has lots of room, he gets down to some gritty business on the Dinah Washington favorite, “If It’s the Last Thing I Do” and “Breezin’.” Other associates of Crawford, including drummer Idris Muhammed, make this date enjoyable: David Newman effortlessly explores the blues “Don’t Start Nuttin,’ Won’t Be Nuttin'” (with Hank in his bluesy “peeper” mood); and keyboardist Danny Mixon’s outings on “Everything I Have Is Yours” and Hubert Laws’ “I Had A Dream” further demonstrate how, under Crawford’s encouragement, music can take on a luster even as it remains casual.

Mr. Crawford is immersed in his grooves. Pyrotechnical wails are not associated with his recordings, but he ecstatically embraces Freddie Hubbard’s “Little Sunflower.” Consistency of a groove, however, remains his abiding principle, so much that Hank Crawford seems incapable of spoiling a good thing.