A hard-charging affair interlaced with charm, Matt Kane's Acknowledgement, surely stands as an homage to some of the jazz giants associated with Kansas City. Three of the compositions were penned by Bobby Watson, who presently calls Kansas City home [and is Director of Jazz Studies at the University of MissouriKansas City (UMKC) Conservatory of Music], three by Lee Summit, MO's gifted guitar wunderkind Pat Metheny, and three more by the late (and woefully neglected) Ahmad Alaadeen, a long-time performer and educator prominent in the Kansas City jazz scene before passing in 2010.
Matt's wonderful KC-honed crew, The Kansas City Generations Sextet, comprised of Ben Leifer, bass; Andrew Ouellette, piano; Michael Shults, alto saxophone; Hermon Mehari, trumpet; and Steve Lambert, tenor saxophone, contribute mightily to the snappy arrangements and controlled intensity of this outing. Including Matt, all of the musicians attended the UMKC Conservatory of Music. So it is indeed fitting that Kane and the crew acknowledge their roots with this fine example of head-nodding hard bop from the heartland.
Kane propels things forward, with his dynamic and straight-ahead intensity. The first three pieces on the album kick things off in exciting fashion, especially the wonderful Watson composition "In Case You Missed It." And the last minute of Metheny's "Timeline For Elvin" showcase Kane's ability to employ licks that range from powerful to subtle and back again, while the other band members show no quarter. The Alaadeen ballad, "And the Beauty Of It All," interjects a beautiful interlude, with noteworthy solos, one by Lambert and the other by Ouellette, bookcased by the subtle interplay of Leifer and Kane. Then it's back to more bop, as the band, fronted by leaping solos by Mehari, Shults, and Lambert, explores the Watson tune "Wheel Within A Wheel." The album winds down with the bluesy Watson ballad "Jewel" followed by the rollicking Metheny composition "Question and Answer."
Kane and crew certainly deliver the goods with this album. If it is an acknowledgement of Kansas City jazz masters and the hard bop drummers of the past (Elvin Jones, Max Roach, Art Blakey, or Roy Haynes), Kane certainly knows how to express appreciation while contributing his own muscular, robust sound to the lineage.
In Case You Missed It; Timeline (For Elvin); The Burning Sand; ASR'; And the Beauty of It All; Wheel Within a Wheel; Midwestern Nights Dream; Jewel; Question and Answer.
Matt Kane, drums;
Ben Leifer, bass;
Andrew Ouellette, piano;
Michael Shults, alto saxophone;
Hermon Mehari, trumpet;
Steve Lambert, tenor saxophone.