The term virtuoso has been tossed around so much it has lost real meaning, with Tom Kennedy it is an understatement.
Brent Black / @CriticalJazz
Tom Kennedy is known by many as one of the premier bassists working today. Kennedy and his prolific electric bass playing are well known from long running stints with both Mike Stern and Dave Weckl which makes the acoustic offering of Just Play! that much more exciting. Joined by such luminaries as Lee Ritenour, Renee Rosnes and the previously mentioned Dave Weckl and Mike Stern, Kennedy lays down a multi layered textural feast that attacks both the visceral and cerebral master class on the importance of spontaneity and how a true jazz collective should function.
You know the tunes here. "Airegin" from Sonny Rollins along with the Dave Brubeck classic "In Your Own Sweet Way" are polar opposites in harmonic development but are pushed to new levels of creativity with tenor titan George Garzone assuming the Rollins role on "Airegin" and Renee Rosnes doing her own riff on the iconic Brubeck number. Kennedy seems to roll effortlessly from the role of sonic soul pumpkin to lyrical soloist with the same subtle nuances as a chameleon changes hue. Kennedy is the real deal here by combining imaginative melodic vision and mad improvisational skills while managing to keep an all most live in the studio vibe. Oddly enough this release was laid down in one day with the majority of the tunes banged out in one take. Another stellar moment during this session occurs with a soulful and soul filled solo from Lee Ritenour on "Moanin'." High points are literally too numerous to mention.
Given Kennedy and his prolific talent and prodigious output as one of the premier and well traveled electric basses, this release could easily slip past unnoticed. This is one of those rare moments when an all star collective comes together for a one day musical celebration.
"In the moment" is far more than a crutch here, it may be the best review possible. One of the finer releases for 2013.
Tracks: Airegin; Moanin'; The Night Has A Thousand Eyes; Ceora; One Liners; In A Sentimental Mood; Bolivia; In Your Own Sweet Way; What Is This Thing Called Love.
Personnel: Dave: Weckl: Drums; Renee Rosnes: Piano; George Garzone: Tenor Sax; Mike Stern: Guitar; Tim Hagans: Trumpet; Lee Ritenour: Guitar; John Allred: Trombone; Steve Wirts: Tenor Sax.