The New York Times dubbed him “the Mohammed Ali of jazz trumpet players”. Born in 1948, Texas trumpeter Hannibal came to fame in the early 70’s from his work and records with the legendary Gil Evans Orchestra, drummer Roy Haynes’ band, and Pharaoh Sanders. His oratorio African Portraits was recorded by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Daniel Barenboim.
The album was recorded live at the 1976 Berlin Jazz Festival. Pianist Cochrane and cellist Murray are once again on board, and tenor saxophonist George Adams, whose work in Charles Mingus’ last great band had already put him on the map, is a welcome addition. Hannibal calls The 23rd Psalm “my musical dedication to the art of perseverance”. Trumpet and piano deliver inspirational solos. Playing with beautifully phrased lyricism, Hannibal offers up the evergreen Willow Weep for Me to“that vintage wine I call Princess Sarah Vaughan”. Bessie’s Blues was John Coltrane’s tribute to blues queen Bessie Smith. The solos do justice to both of those greats. Hannibal uses the traditional gospel Swing Low Sweet Chariot to capture his childhood impressions of the sounds and colors of the Texas cotton fields. He tells his story over a dramatic musical background. The evening ends with the band taking on My Favorite Things, a piece that Coltrane transformed into a jazz classic on his album of the same name. Adams’ solo shares Trane’s legacy, and Hannibal’s euphoric intensity is a fitting homage to the master.