Picks and Pans Review: Laughing at Life

updated 05/08/1995 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/08/1995 01:00AM

Milt Hinton

Grand old jazzman Milt Hinton never ceases to amuse. The 84-year-old bassist (and part-time photographer), fresh off his "starring" role in the Oscar-nominated documentary A Great Day in Harlem, is at his puckish best with this new release. The title is apropos: Hinton takes us on an ebullient ride through scads of plucky standards ("Old Man Harlem," "Sweet Georgia Brown") and a few sumptuous originals. Only Hinton could pull off "The Judge and the Jury," a piece he performs with some of his favorite bassists. It's hard to believe that a drummer and five bass players—-five bass players!—could actually sound good together. It's when Hinton breaks into song, though, that the album reaches an uproarious crescendo. He loves to huckster with his irresistible southern rasp.

The record's only shortcoming is that it isn't a two-CD set. But Hinton's joie de vivre is contagious. He's the perfect buffer to the late evening news. (Columbia)

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