Lotus Blossom

Michael Hashim, a young altoist best known for his ravishing Johnny Hodges-inspired alto sax solos with the Widespread Depression Orchestra, had a smart idea for Lotus Blossom, his recording debut as the leader of his own band. The album, subtitled The Billy Strayhorn Project, consists entirely of music by the man who served as Duke Ellington’s full-time collaborator for 28 years. Hashim ignores Strayhorn’s best-known tunes in favor of tantalizing ballads and swingers that were rarely performed outside the Ellington fold. The Hodges influence is apparent, but no longer dominant: On ”The Intimacy of the Blues” Hashim is as much in thrall to the R&B virtuoso Earl Bostic. As great as the songs are, the sequence suffers from the sameness of grouping together three numbers on soprano sax (two of them, ”Something to Live For” and ”Johnny Come Lately,” listed in reverse order), an instrument on which Hashim is somewhat less persuasive. B+

Lotus Blossom
  • Music