By Ed Enright | Published November 2021
Hiding In Plain Sight is longtime Berklee faculty member Dino Govoni’s first album in nearly a decade. It’s also the Boston-based tenor saxophonist’s third recording as a leader for Whaling City Sound. Joined here by pianist Henry Hey, bassist Mike Pope, drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts and, on several tracks, trumpeter Alex Sipiagin, Govoni digs deep into a substantial program that includes four immensely satisfying pieces by the veteran pianist-composer Paul Nagel. Band members contribute four fully developed tunes of their own, including two by Hey (who serves as session producer), one by Pope and one by the leader. In addition, the group cleverly transforms the samba “Thinkers Anonymous” (by legendary trombonist and jazz educator Hal Crook) into a driving 7/4 montuno. Govoni demonstrates a firm grasp of a broad range of jazz traditions on Hiding In Plain Sight, his straightahead approach integrating all the major branches of the bebop tree into one all-encompassing, mature voice. His tenor seems to exude pure energy as he devours the carefully chosen repertoire with strong, limber chops. But Govoni doesn’t hog the fun; he gives free rein to his ace sidemen, who prove essential in shaping the material via highly personal, unfailingly creative interpretations. You can feel Watts’ presence at any given moment, whether he’s dictating group dynamics with each deliberate stroke or propelling the groove with swirls of subtle subdivision; indeed, everything “Tain” touches here turns to pure jazz gold. As a relatively unknown player with ideas, guts, maturity and enthusiasm to spare, Govoni makes a bold statement with Hiding In Plain Sight, not just proving that he can hang with the best of the best, but establishing himself as a serious artist who’s just as vital a performer with as much to say as today’s jazz fest headliners and poll winners. To think that this invigorating, highly listenable session nearly didn’t happen because of logistical snafus and a temporary crisis of confidence on the part of the leader only deepens one’s appreciation.