Last Sessions - Elmo Hope

In jazz, as in anything else, recognition counts more than bread; but in any case, you dont get much bread without recognition. When you're young, you figure that semi-anonymous scuffling is part of the natural dues. You have to believe a break has to come and then you'll be up there in the polls, at the festivals, and picking up the solid club dates. But what happens if the years keep sliding by and the break still hasn't come? There's no choice but to keep on waiting and hoping , but the hope gets thinner and thinner. To many, recognition never comes. To others, it may come only posthumously, which is not very satisfying to the musician involved unless you believe in ghosts.

Herbie Nichols is an example of a pianist-composer who never broke through while he was alive but is now acknowledged to have been a genuine original. Similarly, Elmo Hope is finally, though posthumously, reaching the audience he should have had long before, and this album will further accelerate the recognition Elmo always longed for. To get a sense of the authority and deeply rooted inventiveness of Hope, I'd suggest you stop reading at this point and play the track, "Toothsome," "Threesome." When you come back, you'll know how uniquely valuable a jazzman Elmo Hope was.

SKU: IC1018

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Roll On Bird's View Pam If I Could I Would Grammy Toothsome Threesome Vi Ann Punch That

Additional Info

Additional Info

Format: Jazz Record
Soloist/Artist Elmo Hope
Instruments Music and Musicians
Composer No
Accompanist/ Conductor Elmo Hope, piano; John orr, bass; Clifford Jarvis, drums; Philly Jo Jones, drums
SKU IC1018


Customer Reviews (3)

"Hope Springs!"Review by Big Toots
IC 1018 Elmo Hope Last Sessions

In a genre that has more than its fair share of tragic stories, the saga of pianist St. Elmo Hope stands out. A childhood friend of Bud Powell and heavily influenced by Bud and later, Thelonious Monk, today Hope is all but a forgotten footnote to a seminal period in jazz. This Elmo recorded and performed as both a leader and a sideman with such stars as Blue Mitchell, John Coltrane, Clifford Brown, Chet Baker, Jackie Maclean, et al. A highly stylized pianist, favoring unique harmonies and quirky, angular-lined solos, Hope was present during the embryonic development of what became known as “Hard Bop.” Yet, as was his case, lifestyle choices and their resulting situations – including the loss of his performing license sent Hope spiraling to an early demise.

On this fascinating 1966 recording – one of two made for Inner City – Hope shows all of the originality, creativity and inventive quirkiness for which he was known. One gets the sense here that Hope was evolving from more of a Bop-styled player (where technique and tempo dominated) to a deeper, more intellectually-derived “Harder” artist (“Roll On,” “Vi Ann”). He covers eight original selections in a swinging style that intrigues and draws you in cryptically (“Punch That”). Hope’s penchant for playing the upper register of the piano is another stylistic trait (the Calypso-tinged “Bird’s View”). Harmonically, Hope was also complex as both player and composer, as you hear on the ballad “Pam” (with a piano that is obviously out-of tune). Hope had familial Carib roots and select tunes here demonstrate that (“If I Could I Would” and “Grammy”). “Toothsome Threesome” has Hope in a dark blue vein and he shows that he can color it so.

The rhythm section (including Philly Jo Jones on “Pam”) swings and works well with Hope’s personalized approach (“Punch That”).

What can one say about a complex and gifted artist who also recorded an album with formerly incarcerated inmates titled “Sounds from Rikers Island?” Perhaps “The Last Sessions” provides a mechanism for Hope to escape from oblivion to well-deserved notoriety. I so hope.
(Posted on 6/9/2015)
Last SessionsReview by Simon Sez
Elmo Hope was a good friend of Bud Powell and Thelonious Monk. Although he never became as well-known as those two, his piano playing and songwriting were both impressive. Unfortunately he had a relatively brief life, passing away in 1967 when he was 44.

Hope’s last two albums were put out by Inner City. On this first volume, he is heard in a trio performing eight of his songs including the blues “Punch That” and the ballad “’Pam.” His songs did not become standards but that does not mean that they were not enjoyable and adventurous. And even though this album was recorded near the end of his life, Elmo Hope still sounds enthusiastic and in top form.

Simon Sez: Elmo Hope’s Last Sessions (IC1018) has the pianist in a trio playing eight of his obscure but enjoyable songs. (Posted on 5/6/2014)
Review by Michael
Elmo Hope released far too few albums, and after his death, hardly anything has been unearthed. This recording and Volume II, both issued by Inner City Records on CD in 2008, both come highly recommended for their sustainable quality and purity. (Posted on 6/14/2013)

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