Bob Kindred traveled to the bucolic surroundings of Mapleshade's recording studio in rural Maryland to team with pianist Larry Willis for a session of more than 60 minutes' worth of "gentle" but not outdated jazz performances. In some respects Kindred is a throwback to Ben Webster and the tender side of Stan Getz. His playing recalls that distinctive rasping timbre and excellent rhythmic momentum that characterized Webster, especially in his later years. But Kindred also shows that he is not unfamiliar with the modern jazz idiom as he interpolates dissonant avant-garde improvisations throughout, such as on of Django Reinhardt's "Anouman" while still managing to retain that Webster breathy sax sound. But it's the sheer beauty of Kindred's tone and his consummate lyricism that will catch the ear of most listeners. His warm, full-bodied rendition of "The Things We Did Last Summer" is a throwback to the days when melody was important. No matter how many times it was improvised upon, saxophone players like Webster, Getz, Young and Hawkins always returned to the melody, the heart of the song. There's a feeling of deja vu as the opening measures of Billy Strayhorn's "Blood Count" slither from the speakers. Kindred's tenor takes on the sensuous, earthy sound of Johnny Hodges' alto, a sound he retains through most of this cut. Kindred's fingers deftly flit over the keys of his tenor on Horace Silver's "Juicy Lucy" slipping in modern jazz ideas in between measures of soul jazz. Very innovative and quite singular.
Regular Mapleshade and top jazz pianist Larry Willis, is the sole playing chaperon for Kindred on this set. He becomes Kindred's alter ego on such tunes as "Blue Moon" where Willis' jagged comping sets off Kindred's in depth exploration of this classic warhorse. His pensive pianism is highlighted by a lengthy solo on "Warm Valley". He also contributed his "Ethiopia" to the play list. This album perfects the merging of the styles of earlier saxophone greats with modern jazz ideas and is highly recommended. Visit Mapleshade on the web at www.mapleshaderecords.com.