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George Kahn: DreamCatcher

Dan McClenaghan By

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George Kahn: DreamCatcher
George Kahn is another one of those talented West Coast jazz pianists, in the fashion of Dave Brubeck, Ramsey Lewis, Vince Guaraldi and Wynton Kelly. His recorded output presents a sound with a clean, bright polish, and an engaging, easy swing. Each of his previous discs shines a light on the beauty of the mainstream, especially on his terrific 2018 outing Straight Ahead (Playing Records). His tenth album, Dreamcatcher, carries on with that tradition.

The group is the George Kahan Quartet. The album cover art/design looks a lot like that of The Complete Modern Jazz Quartet Prestige and Pablo Recordings (Prestige, 2006), with the MJQ initials switched out for GKQ. This is apt. The music of the The Modern Jazz Quartet was often referred to a "chamber jazz," and that is what George Kahn has created here with Dreamcatcher.

The Modern Jazz Quartet's blend of vibraphone and piano is, of course, much different from Kahn's blend of his piano and Pat Kelly's guitar. But the approach—the equality of instrumental input, the seamless collectivity of the sound, the classy and refined beauty—is the same, beginning with the Leonard Bernstein / Stephen Sondheim jewel, "I Feel Pretty." It is an up-tempo take, crisp and lively, swinging. The familiar "Just One Of Those Things" takes things into smoother territory—cool and laid-back, while another Great American Songbook tune, "You And the Night and the Music," moves into a flawless groove. Kahn goes solo on "Never Let Me Go"—as lovely as can be in the pianist's hands—exuding palpable yearning.

The Kahn-penned title tune sis a cool swinger, sounding like two drinks into the cocktail hour, and "Going Baroque" is the quartet's gorgeous, deep-in-the-pocket tribute to The Modern Jazz Quartet, while the set's closer, "Quaratuni Time"—another Kahn-penned tune—closes the show with a bouncy, optimistic, "C-Jam Blues" nod to the tribulations of Covid-19 times.

Track Listing

I Feel Pretty; Just One of Those Things; You and the Night and the Music; Never Let Me Go; One Fine Thing; Dreamcatcher; Going Baroque; Stardust; Tonight; Eva; Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight; Quarantuni Time.

Personnel

George Kahn: piano; Pat Kelley: guitar; David Hughes: bass; Alex Acuña: drums.

Album information

Title: DreamCatcher | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Playing Records

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