Hank Crawford | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Hank Crawford 

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The sweet, singing alto saxophone of Hank Crawford set the mark for soul hornmen from David Sanborn to Maceo Parker. After stints in the 50s with Ike and Tina and the Ray Charles Orchestra, Crawford cut 12 records of his own for Atlantic in the 60s, choice bits of which have recently been collected on a two-disc anthology, Heart and Soul (Rhino). He has an ultraslick tone, sensual phrasing, and an appetite for (sometimes sappy) ballads, which he often manages to transform into something magical. Like David "Fathead" Newman, Willis "Gator" Jackson, and Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson, Crawford's got blues deep in his soul (no nickname, though). His heartaching version of Percy Mayfield's "Please Send Me Someone to Love" is bluesily numinous. But watch out, 'cause the 59-year-old altoman is capable of kicking into high gear on bop material as well. Of late he's been working with an old pal, organist Jimmy McGriff, and they have a newish disc called Right Turn on Blue (Telarc). In his week at the Blackstone, however, Crawford will be working with a top-drawer Windy City rhythm section, the John Young Trio, which features Young on piano, Larry Gray on bass, and Robert Shy on drums. Incidentally, Hank appears on the cover of the October issue of Down Beat; inside he's locked in conversation with a reverent Sanborn, who reminisces lovingly about the last time he saw Crawford at the Blackstone. Friday and Saturday, 9 and 11 PM, and Sunday, 4, 8, and 10 PM, Joe Segal's Jazz Showcase, Blackstone Hotel, 636 S. Michigan; 427-4846.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Barbara Pease.

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