Though born in 1919 Hal Singer claims, just like the precursors of free jazz, “to always be looking for something else”. When he started out he played in numerous swing bands, then worked in bop with Don Byas, Roy Eldridge or Red Allen, before joining Duke Ellington’s band. In 1948, he recorded a successful single, Cornbread under his own name, which allowed him to travel to the four corners of the earth with his own group.
Then, in 1965, Hal Singer came to live in France: in Paris, he played at clubs like the C’hat qui pêche’ or ‘Riverbop’; in the studio, he multiplied his experiments and experience. It was one such session that gave us Blues And News: joined by Jacques Bolognési (trombone), Jean-Claude André (guitar), Siegfried Kessler (keyboards and flute), Patrice Caratini (double bass), Art Taylor (drums) et Alain Charlery (percussion), the saxophonist himself goes “back to the roots”, to also “come up with something new”.
Things kick off with “It’s My Thing”, a soul jazz number reminiscent of Cannonball Adderley or Lou Donaldson. After the pretty balled “Lina”, comes “Malcolm X ”, a luminous homage which resists the storm whipped up by Kessler on piano. Getting back to swing, Singer makes music with his communicative ’joie de vivre’ (“Du Bois”, “Pour Stéphanie”) before signing off with a flamboyant blues dedicated to him by Kessler for the occasion: “Blues For Hal”. But was another title
possible?... Blues For All!!!