Bobby Hackett: Dream Awhile

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Were it not for Bobby, one of the greatest ballad stylists in jazz, the two LPs reissued here – Dream Awhile (on CD for the first time) and bonus album – The Most Beautiful Horn In The World – would not interest any jazz follower. The turgid rhythm backing, dominated by the four-manual Wurlitzer pipe organ, wades sluggishly through treacle.

Dave McKenna, a fine jazz pianist, could have helped, but his brief interpolations are ruthlessly confined by the bland arrangements to limited and simplistic statements, rarely straying far from the melody.

Dream Awhile features a dozen very laid-back and well-worn standards. The follow-on album a few months later repeats the same set-up, albeit with a few less hackneyed tunes.

Hackett, always dependably mellow, subtle and lyrically inventive, sounds, I thought, a touch more direct and business-like than usual on these commercially slanted sessions. Nevertheless, every note is tastefully chosen and perfectly placed in exquisitely constructed phrasing, through sheer professionalism perhaps rather than any inspiration from the backing.

Without Hackett, this is just 60s-style soporific “mood” music at its blandest. My three stars are all solely for Bobby.

Discography
[Dream Awhile ] (1) Stairway To The Stars; (2) Stardust; Misty; The Boy Next Door; These Foolish Things; Fools Rush In; (1) Sweet And Lovely; Bewitched; I Coudn’t  Sleep A Wink Last Night; (2) Dream; It’s Been A Long, Long Time; That Old Feeling. [ The Most Beautiful Horn In The World ] (3) Lazy Afternoon; Can’t Get Out Of This Mood; Love Letters; Moonlight In Vermont; Like Someone In Love; Polka Dots And Moonbeams; Blue Is The Night; Chances Are; It’s Magic; When I Fall In Love; Midnight Sun; Indian Summer (78.24)
Hackett (c) on all tracks with:
(1) Glenn Osser (p, org); Dave McKenna (p); Al Casamenti (g); Joe Williams (b); Jake Hanna (d). NY, 3-5 November 1960.
(2) as (1) except Johnny Seng (p, org) replaces Osser.
(3) as (1) except Osser (p, org) alternates with Fred Mendelsohn (p, org). NY, 31 May and 1-2 June 1961.
Essential Jazz Classics 11410