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Release Date:
May 1, 2011

Reviewed by:
Bonnie Schendell

Bassist, David Hughes…we see him out and about nationally with David Benoit and the Jazz Crusaders.   L.A. fans see him with local swing/big bands and the Asia America Symphony Orchestra.  He is the quiet storm; the understated bassist that makes a big statement wherever he goes and whatever he plays.  He is simply amazing.  Hopeful Romantic, his fourth solo CD, has eight of ten tracks all written and arranged by David, with the other two co-written.  What I have always enjoyed about his solo projects is that they are not bass focused.  The bass plays a huge part in his compositions, for sure, but the music is not bass-centric.  There is always something for everyone, whether your preferred instrument is the piano, sax, drums, etc.  And on this CD, Hughes himself takes on guitar, keyboards, percussion, and even vocals, but he also has a great lineup of musicians to add dimension to the sound:  Jamey Tate on drums (David Benoit & Mindi Abair), Michael Bluestein (piano), Nate Tschetter (Rhodes), Jenny Scott (flute & piccolo), and others.

The CD opens with a very funky, guitar heavy “Yaburi-Toro.”  Koichi Tabori provides the electric guitar licks that are stunning.  David’s bass adds the bottom and gives us an amazing solo.  And the drums from Jamey Tate keep our heads bopping!  “Blauer Berg” is a fantastic tune that offers bass and piano mirroring each other as it opens.  Michael Bluestein’s piano solo mid-song is beautiful.  Add in the flute and piccolo of Jenny Scott and you have a tune that tells a story.  It ebbs and flows as it travels through the scenery.  My favorite track is “Dave’s Song.”  No matter how many times I listen to this CD, I keep coming back to the appeal of this one.  It just has a great catchy groove to it, between the guitar of John Depatie and David’s bass.  A funky little beat keeps your interest throughout.  Great to crank up and drive to!

“Dinner with Friends” is a David Hughes-featured track.  The piano plays along with him, but the bass takes the lead on this mellower, yet melodic tune.  On “Juan’s Song,” the electric guitar leads the way through this one, with the piano lending a hand in adding the melody.  “Easyphunk Too” is just that…a laid back, easy going track that has just enough of the funk to make it oh-so-cool.  I got the impression that “Room With a View” was written on one of David’s many road trips.  He’s a great photographer of scenery and this tune paints a picture with his bass.  The bass is romantic and tender while driving forward and keeping your attention.

“Kiyomi Kawaii” features Kiyomi Otaka on the Hammond organ alongside David’s bass.  What a great combination for this bass driven track.  The bass takes the full lead but gives way to the Hammond mid-stream for an old school sound.  The title track is a beautiful, serene tune that speaks to me about Hughes’ personality.  A standout, but in a quiet way, yet it speaks volumes.  It’s the kind of tune that makes you a little more introspective while listening.  The CD closes out with “Bittersweet.”  This tune is led by the bass, with the piano by its side.  The melody speaks its title as you feel like this is an ending to something…a relationship, a trip, or a story.

I have been a follower of David Hughes’ music for several years now after seeing him at several David Benoit shows.  His compositions have grown over the years and truly tell stories.  As stated before, they are not always about his instrument of choice; it’s just beautiful, widely appealing music with terrific melodies.  I have heard him play the funky, in-your-face bass lines, but this CD showcases another side of David…the Hopeful Romantic.