Vibraphonist and drummer Chuck Redd pays tribute to a close friend and one of his musical fathers, the late legendary jazz guitarist Barney Kessel, on this recording featuring five Kessel compositions and other favorite standards recorded by the guitarist. A much in-demand drummer featured on fifty recordings throughout his career, Redd plays the drums on only two of these twelve tracks, really demonstrating the depth of his talents on the vibes. A few other veteran musicians lend a touch of class to this album, including master pianist Monty Alexander, drummer Jeff Hamilton (co-leader of the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra), bassist Hassan Shakur, guitarists Howard Alden and Gene Bertoncini, and Chuck's brother Robert, also on piano.
The opening title track, the only original penned by Redd, is a tribute to Kessel's always positive attitude. Redd burns up this appropriately lively and upbeat chart with an immediate musical statement. Also included are classics and standards like the famous Mercer/Raskin score "Laura," which Kessel recorded five times. Redd weaves some magic on vibes, dancing around a fine Alexander run on a head-bopping interpretation that contrasts with the tune's original arrangement. Kessel played on Julie London's hit recording of "Cry Me A River," and on this take Redd features pianist Alexander and steps back in an excellent supporting role.
Robert Redd keys in with "On A Slow Boat to China" and matches the leader's performance, giving way to Alden, who provides sharp chords on this quick-moving cut. A truly sweet "Tenderly," which stands out above the rest, is played with emotion by Alexander. Redd's soft touch on the vibes and Hamilton's soothing brushes combine to produce a memorable sound.
Redd gives an engaging performance on the tempo-changing "You're the One For Me," a Kessel piece that Bertoncini interprets on the nylon string guitar, capturing the Kessel feel. In like manner, guitarist Alden plays slow and softly on the Gershwin standard "Love Is Here To Stay," in which Redd's vibes open up in a twist.
These tracks may not tell the whole story, but they do offer a taste of the warm and gentle music that flows on this album. Happy All The Time pays homage to a legend of jazz with a display of sheer talent and raw energy by one of the premier vibraphonists in the business.
Personnel: Chuck Redd: vibes and drums (10,11); Monty Alexander: piano (2,3,5,12); Howard Alden:
guitar (4,7,8,10); Gene Bertoncini (6,11); Robert Redd: piano (1,4,6,8,9); Hassan
Shakur: bass; Jeff Hamilton: drums (except 10,11).