For Langston Cover“. . . Mr. Hatfield’s monumental homage . . . not only takes Mr. Hughes’ poetry across musical topography that it has never traversed before, but Mr. Hatfield also fuses the music of greater America in one of the most contemporary tributes to an artist of another generation . . . .  There is such an empathy for Mr. Hughes’ work that the music seems to belong to his poetry . . . .  Mr. Hatfield deserves special credit for the compositions, and, above all else, his exquisite arrangements.”

–excerpt, Raul da Gama review of For Langston,

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CD discovery of the week. After stumbling across a used copy of The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes, guitarist Ken Hatfield assembled a sextet and recorded an album dedicated to the writer-social activist and soul of the Harlem Renaissance. On For Langston Hatfield avoided the trap of trying to out-heavy Hughes. Instead, he has produced an uplifting, spiritual jazz tribute that treats its subject seriously but with joyous lyricism. The music is completely unexpected, given the album’s title. Each of the 14 tracks corresponds to a Hughes poem, and Hilary Gardner handles the vocals with aplomb. The star here, though, is Hatfield, who composed and arranged the songs and plays with a glorious feel. Easily one of the finest tribute albums so far this year.”

–Marc Myers,


“Hatfield, the composer, has gathered superb musicians for this project, including Hilary Gardner, a skilled soprano using her voice as a jazz singer should, and Jamie Baum on alto flute, making an interesting change from the usual saxes and trumpets of the front line . . . . The general mood of the CD is optimistic, with lots of forward-moving tunes, and many short solos on flute and guitar. Another disc I’m glad to have in my collection.”

–excerpt, Ann Alex review of For Langston, BebopSpokenHere

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“Ken Hatfield is one of the most original, creative, and technically proficient guitarists on the scene today. . . .  The album’s arrangements, combined with the incredible musical talent of each band member, make this record exquisite.  The music is presented with class, not to take away, but rather, complement the poetry of Hughes.  The music is beautifully arranged and adds grace to Langston Hughes’s poetry.  Congratulations to Ken on a superb record.”

–excerpt, Dr. Brandon Bernstein review of For Langston, Just Jazz Guitar magazine


“Very nice guitar from Ken . . . we’ve reviewed him before, so I’m familiar with his work; & you’ll want to be, too, as soon as you hear cool tunes like “Dream Boogie”. . . superb energy & nice vocals from Hilary Gardner. The most notable thing about Ken’s music on this album is that it is all so together! 13 great tunes that will have you listening over & over again. . . HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.”

–excerpt, Rotcod Zzaj review of For Langston,


“The Langston Hughes songbook?!? Hey, it works!  Guitarist Ken Hatfield puts together [words] of famed poet Langston Hughes, and uses them as a springboard for some wonderful breezily swinging jazz . . . .  These melodies (after a sleek opening overture) deliver fragrant frames to Hughes’ writings . . . . You never feel like it’s a sterile reading in the back room of a Barnes and Noble; this is a band that is playing real music, and it’s enjoyable on any terms you want to take it on. A fresh breeze!

–excerpt, George W. Harris review of For Langston,


“To say Ken Hatfield is an accomplished musician is an understatement. He’s a fine nylon-string jazz player, and a prolific composer . . . . Both the compositions and the performances are unexpected . . . .  Hatfield adds Latin-flavored chords and rhythms, which mesh perfectly with his approach (remember what Jelly Roll Morton said about the ‘Spanish Tinge’ as an essential element of jazz?) . . . . Hatfield directs his work at a sophisticated audience . . . For Langston may be best appreciated by repeated listening, awareness of Hughes’ life and work, and an openness to Hatfield’s intentions. This project also provides musicians examples of stellar ensemble playing and a creative vision fully realized.”

–excerpt, Patrick Ragains review of For Langston,


“Ken Hatfield takes the relationship between jazz and poetry to a different level . . . The collection is pleasant, unpretentious and a fitting tribute to Hughes.”

–excerpt, Woodrow Wilkins review of For Langston, SmoothJazzDaily