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Jackie King & Willie Nelson: The Gypsy (2002)

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No stars How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

A ballad doesn’t much care which genre it’s said to represent. Instrumentals, such as the interpretation of “The Nearness of You” appearing on this new release, make a jazz presence more obvious. The guitar duo of Jackie King and Willie Nelson weaves a session filled with lovely ballads and hot, up-tempo romps. When lyrics are applied, as on the title track, the focus changes and we stop worrying about which is country and which is not. Nelson sings half the songs and adds his emphatic guitar voice as well.

Throughout, King’s swinging jazz guitar finds ample space to explore. Both guitarists have admitted a strong admiration for the work of Django Reinhardt. King’s approach is a hearty combination of lyrical outpouring and improvised charm. That Charlie Parker is one of his largest influences comes as no surprise. King started playing professionally when he was 12. From Texas, he was fully immersed in both the country music scene and modern jazz. King moved to San Francisco in ’68 and devoted his career to playing jazz full time. He’s since resettled in his hometown of San Antonio – maintains homes in both Texas and California – and tours regularly with his old friend Willie Nelson. On this session, the duo finds a way to show respect for both country music and jazz. Recommended, The Gypsy is a mainstream album that can be enjoyed by everyone.

Track Listing: The Gypsy; The Nearness of You; Heart of a Clown; Once in Awhile; Jealous Heart; Back Home in Indiana; My Window Faces the South; Cherokee; San Antonio Rose; Come Back to Me.

Personnel: Jackie King- electric guitar; Willie Nelson- acoustic guitar, vocals; Andrew Higgins- acoustic bass; Jon Blondell- electric bass; Don Haas- piano; Bob Scott- drums.

Record Label: FreeFalls

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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