"The new CD Friends includes three by Monk, and nine originals by
Michael Davenport and/or Al Hood. Some of the music seems freely
improvised, other pieces are more considered. With Davenport playing
mostly clarinet or bass clarinet, and Hood on piano, this is music that
frequently sits on a fuzzy line between jazz and contemporary chamber
music, if there is a line... this kind of playing indicates it's more of
a continuum (are Bartok and Monk really that far apart?) Both musicians
have backgrounds in concert music and jazz as well as being composers and
highly regarded teachers. This is absorbing music and very rewarding
Jim Wilke, JazzBeat, KPLU-FM
"During the late 1970s and early 1980s, pianist Al Hood was one of the few
irreverent voices on Seattle's avant-garde scene. His 'outside' approach,
which took in Cecil Taylor's fury, Thelonious Monk's quirkiness and Paul
Bley's pastel impressionism, attracted an important circle of young
musicians to his jazz workshop at Seattle Central Community College and to
his legendary evening classes at home, which continue to this day. 'Not
Quiet Rite,' by the Al Hood Quartet, is still one of the finest albums
ever recorded in Seattle.
...Hood has maintained a musical relationship with Mike Davenport, a
reed player and much-revered teacher of dazzling technical ability and
bristling imagination. A tape of their smash January 'comeback' concert
at the Nordic Heritage has been released as 'Friends,' an excellent disc
on which Hood is very much his plucky, pointillistic, witty self;
Davenport crystalline, speedy and thoughtful; and the interaction between
the two playful, surprising and instantaneous..."
Paul DeBarros, JazzBeat, The Seattle Times, April 10, 1997.
"The collaboration of Hood-piano and Davenport-clarinet is a superb
trip in modern jazz improvisation, bending edges and extending envelopes.
Monk's "Think of One" is laughing stride, almost conversation while
walking using space and accent. Davenport's "Obluxious" is darting like a
kid or your dog dashing about. Hood plays with authority without bashing
allowing the lyrical clarinet to challenge push the envelope while Hood
maneuvers underneath the high fire. "Tree Fune" is a ballad extending,
laconic and edgy. Hood is one of the great players of space and time
taking some of the stride greats and Paul Bley into his particular
envelope. "3 For One" is a lyrical walk as Davenport floats in this
accessible space. The voicing on "Trinkle, Tinkle" sounds like a bop
treatment of a jazz standard as the bass clarinet presents such a full
sound and Hood chords in a wide texture. "Some of The Things I Was" is
Hood's mischievous humor, small vignette jazz lines that Davenport
responds to moving from a bop lick, to a ballad reprise, to an avant
jumble. This somewhat outside music is accessible and a good place to
learn more about experimental jazz. These are two pros."
Chris Lunn, Victory Music, July 1997.
"Pianist Al Hood's music is characterized by a rich and compact tonal
language that combines elements of straight-ahead jazz, freely improvised
music, and various forms of 20th century chamber music, tonal and atonal,
into a striking personal musical language.
You could call it spontaneous re-composition of scored material. It's
jazz improvisation that draws from the American jazz tradition and equally
from the Euro-American classical tradition. With tunes rather than
spontaneous composition. Walk in on a Hood performance at any moment, and
you'll hear the tune he began with; it's just that you will be
hard-pressed to imagine how he got there.
The tune may well be, significantly, one by Thelonius Monk, a pianist
of similar oblique architectonics. Like Monk, Hood may, within a short
musical while, swirl, swing, or meander through numerous harmonic
regions, but never risk running off his imagination's own rails.
With chamber music, he shares the conviction that no instrument should
merely fill a role. There's no walking bass or chink-a-chinging
cymbal. If an instrument is in the mix, its player had best do - add -
In clarinetist Michael Davenport, he has had, for many years, an ideal
counterpart and foil. From the classical realm, Davenport comes to meet
the more jazz-origined Hood in consistently dazzling, harmonious
Friends includes location recordings of several compositions by both
players, as well as three by Monk. Several pieces date from 1984, others
from the last 12 months. The two players exhibit unerring attention to
each other's playing.
For years, Hood, one of the first Seattle Jazz Hall of Fame inductees
has been an enormously influential but low-key titan of this region's
musical life. He grew up on the south side of Portland, Oregon, and spent
his early career as a member of Gene Ammon's road quartet and as a working
pianist in New York. He was a lifelong friend, and something of a mentor,
to the late Jim Pepper, and founded the Community Creative Music Ensemble
at Seattle Central Community College after relocation here in the mid
1970's. In the early and middle 1980's, Hood recorded two classic albums,
Not Quiet Rite (Au Roar) and Spheres (on Gary Bannister's old label Audio
Daddio). After an extended tour of Europe with his trio in 1981, he
returned to form the new incarnation of CCME, Frog University Players. It
has been a haven hollow for fellow players."
Peter Monaghan, Earshot Jazz, May 1997.