384

Kenny Burrell: Blue Muse

Rex  Butters By

Sign in to view read count
Kenny Burrell: Blue Muse Since the '50s, Kenny Burrell has contributed crucial titles to some of the most important jazz labels, including Blue Note, Verve, Columbia, and Muse. For his 96th album, Burrell sticks to what's worked well for him over the past fifty years: some blues, some Ellington, some swing, and several ballads, all played with beautiful tone and exquisite taste. To keep things fresh, Burrell adds some unusual flavors to the stew: acoustic guitar and voice.

At the dawn of his lengthy career, Burrell sang solo on Detroit TV. He also sang on Weaver of Dreams (Columbia 1960) and the recent Lucky So and So (Concord 2001). While George Benson can continue to sleep undisturbed, Burrell generally acquits himself as a straightforward reader of lyrics on four of these tunes.

With drummer Sherman Ferguson and especially bassist Roberto Miranda lighting a fire under the swinging groove of "Mark I," the set begins with classic Burrell, his effortless technical prowess and often-imitated tone intact. The ballad "My Friend Ray" pays tribute to the late Ray Brown, pianist Gerald Wiggins treating Burrell's chords, octaves, and solos as another voice to showcase, sensitively dressing each measure to the sweet sounding guitar's advantage. Miranda deftly dances through the arrangement without adding clutter.

"On the Wings of Spirit," finds Herman Riley joining the proceedings on flute and Burrell playing a steel string acoustic in a Brazilian mode. "Then I Met You" returns Riley to breathy flute as Burrell sings a self-penned ode to his wife. While it can be argued that the sentiment and the vocal (and the synth string section) were better left at home, Burrell's solo offers a glimpse of what could have been a more evocative instrumental.

"It's No Time to be Blue," a version of Kenny Dorham's "Blue Bossa" with lyrics, works better. The emphasis remains on Burrell's acoustic guitar, with the vocals basically stating the theme. "3/4 of the House" recalls Miles' "All Blues" and happily steers the program away from a sentimental rut. Riley slathers soulful tenor all over the tune, pushing Burrell into familiar blues territory. Monk's "'Round Midnight" brings the tempo back down, but features Burrell's best vocal of the collection, although the tune's angularity is all ironed out.

Now celebrating his fruitful twenty-five year association with UCLA, his reputation untouchable, his place in jazz history assured (he was, afterall, Duke Ellington's favorite guitarist), and with over two hundred album appearances in addition to his nearly hundred as leader, Burrell will hardly live or die by Blue Muse. But this self-produced effort seems to argue in favor of an objective sympathetic hand to help steer number ninety-seven.

Visit Concord on the web: www.concordrecords.com

This review first appeared in All About Jazz: Los Angeles .


Track Listing: Mark I, My Friend Ray, On the Wings of the Spirit, Then I Met You/ It's No Time to be Blue, Blue in Green, Blue Muse, Solitude,

Personnel: Kenny Burrell- acoustic and electric guitar, vocals; Tom Ranier- piano and keyboards; Gerald Wiggins- piano; Herman Riley- saxophone and flute; Roberto Miranda- bass; Sherman Ferguson- drums

Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Concord Music Group | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark CD/LP/Track Review The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Les Deux Versants Se Regardent CD/LP/Track Review Les Deux Versants Se Regardent
by John Sharpe
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Molto Bene CD/LP/Track Review Molto Bene
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read "Music From Max Fleischer Cartoons" CD/LP/Track Review Music From Max Fleischer Cartoons
by Mark Corroto
Published: March 14, 2016
Read "Harmonicus Rex" CD/LP/Track Review Harmonicus Rex
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: March 17, 2016
Read "Spring Feelings" CD/LP/Track Review Spring Feelings
by Andrew Luhn
Published: March 17, 2016
Read "Magia" CD/LP/Track Review Magia
by Mark Sullivan
Published: November 6, 2016
Read "Simplicity" CD/LP/Track Review Simplicity
by Chris Mosey
Published: August 6, 2016
Read "Wolf Valley" CD/LP/Track Review Wolf Valley
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 18, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!