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George Hoar - Oracle

Contributors: Written by John Thomas
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  • Artist(s):
  • Genre: Jazz
  • Personnel:
    George Hoar, electric and acoustic bass, piano, wood koch flute, melodeon; Dave Liebman, soprano sax (2); Mark Feldman, violin (8); Troy Conn, guitar (4,7); Brian Sullivan, drums (2,3); Tim Gordon, soprano sax (6); Kieran Loftus, electric piano (2,5); Kevin Lutke, guitar (6); Kira Kundu, percussion (2,4,5,6,8); Carl Mendez, percussion (2,4,5,6,8); Joe Nocilla, drums (4); Steve Rossilli, drums (8); William Ware, vibes, marimba (3,6,8)
  • Tracks:
    Little Bass Suite; Oracle; Solyqua; Solace Anon; Celestial Awake; Urban Legend; Gentle Giant; Scenes from a Marionette; Farewell

ORACLE—Northern Records. Web:

Bassist/composer/pianist George Hoar’s latest album, Oracle, features some beautiful and haunting compositions and an A-list of musicians. The album begins with a striking polyphonic solo bass suite that was composed in a classical style, yet it evolves into an improvisational performance, showing the two sides of George Hoar. The second piece is the title track which is perhaps the highlight of the album. The beautiful melody is handled by Dave Liebman on soprano saxophone, who infuses it with his soul-stirring sound. Kieran Loftus plays electric piano, and uses an extremely synthetic patch that sounds like it’s from the 80’s. Along with drums, there are layers of other percussion sounds as well.

            “Solyqua” begins with an energy building drum solo from Brian Sullivan that gives way to a complex and multi-faceted melody harmonized and shared by Hoar on piano and William Ware on vibes. Hoar’s piano playing is often rhythmically sloppy and the piano sounds like an old slightly off tune upright. These two elements along with the quality of the melody give it a very frantic feeling which may or may not have been intended.

            “Solace Anon” finds Hoar playing beautifully on the piano. Again the melody and chords that he has arranged, along with the bowed bass put it in the field of classical music, but then some Latin percussion enters and improvisation begins. Hoar’s improvisations on this composition are heartfelt and intense. Suddenly, the tempo increases, and the melancholy quality turns to hope and excitement.

            Track five has a very contemplative and otherworldly vibe and is entitled “Celestial Awake.” This tune gives Hoar a chance to really shred on electric bass, even though the tempo is slow. It is no surprise that he dedicated it to Eric Satie and Jaco Pastorius. “Gentle Giant” is a very pretty duo played between Hoar and Troy Conn on guitar—Conn gets a very Bill Frisell type of sound on this track. Hoar really gets to stretch out on this one, taking a more rubato approach to tempo.

            “Scenes from a Marionette” is an epic composition with some exciting twists and turns, through-composed from beginning to end. Mark Feldman plays beautifully on violin.

 “Farewell” is exactly that—the album closer, and it ends how it began, with solo bass. For me, the opener and closer are the best two tunes on the album—he arpeggiates two absolutely beautiful chord progressions that will go right through your chest. The closer has more of a joyful quality to it, where the opener was dark and haunting. It is dedicated to his father, Arthur Hoar.
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