Alto saxophonist Nick Hempton‘s third album, Odd Man Out, is in stores tomorrow. (It’s been available digitally since July 30; get it on iTunes.) Originally from Australia, he’s been a New York resident since 2004, and working with a steady band since shortly thereafter. Pianist Art Hirahara, bassist Marco Panascia and drummer Dan Aran have played on all three albums—the group’s self-titled (and self-released) 2009 debut, 2011′s The Business, and Odd Man Out, both on Posi-Tone. The latter two albums have also featured guests: guitarist Yotam Silberstein on The Business, and trombonist Michael Dease on Odd Man Out.
Hempton’s music combines bop classicism with a sense of wit and fun, both in its sound and the track titles he picks (“I’m a Nurse, I’m an Engineer”; “Press One for Bupkis”; “Not Here for a Haircut”). Live, he’s a charming raconteur, never dumbing down the music but always keenly aware that he’s an entertainer and that his audience is there for a show, not a recital. His playing is melodic and bluesy, but light on its feet; he seems to hope dancing will break out, and perform accordingly.
Odd Man Out (buy it from Amazon) is a more exploratory album than either of its two predecessors. It features nine original compositions and two covers—Duke Ellington‘s “Day Dream” and Randy Newman‘s “Blue Shadows,” from the movie The Three Amigos. And while most of the tracks focus on blues and swing, there’s a turn toward weirdness on “A Bicycle Accident,” which explores space and abstraction in a way that’s avant-garde without being alienating.
Stream “The Set-Up”:
Hempton and band will be celebrating Odd Man Out‘s release at Smalls on Saturday, August 17 from 7:30 to 10 PM. I spoke to him in late July about Odd Man Out, working on cruise ships, and more; that interview is after the jump.