Tim Hagans, NDR Bigband, <em>Faces Under The Influence: A Jazz Tribute to John Cassavetes</em/>, Waiting Moon Records
In this work inspired by American independent film pioneer John Cassavetes (1929-1989), Hagans triumphs as composer, trumpet soloist and producer. He bases his tribute in impressions of characters in six Cassavetes films, plus a piece named for the director. Devotees of Cassavetes’ movies will recognize the names of the characters, beginning with “Lelia” from Shadows(/em> (1959) and including “Seymour Moskowitz” from Minnie and Moskowitz (1971). Hagans’ instruments here are his trumpet and the superb NDR Bigband, the jazz orchestra of Hamburg Radio. Several master soloists from the NDR include bassist Ingmar Heller and alto saxophonist Fiete Felsch. Hagans’ own solo work—saturated with feeling balanced by technique—reaches an apex in his unfettered solo on “John Cassavetes.” His writing in that piece and throughout is impressive for intersecting lines and incorporation of references to a variety of jazz styles. The album is a milestone in Hagans’ career.