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Saxophonist Kenney Polson may not be a household name but he has a lengthy pedigree in jazz and smooth jazz. He was born in Kansas City, Missouri to a musical family; a grandfather worked with Count Basie and Cab Calloway and an uncle sang with the Coasters. Polson's discography since 2010 includes Serendipity (2014, No Slop Media), Paradise (2016, No Slop Media) and now For Lovers Only.
The album is aptly titled and Polson's warm and fluid timbre resonates throughout. Friends from WAR, The Isley Brothers, Kool & The Gang, Malo, Rufus, and Tower of Power are among the line-up. "Many of them are not playing solos," says Polson, "but mixing R&B guys with jazz guys really makes for a great sound, and they are laying down killer grooves to augment the feel of these melodies."
"Stella by Starlight" features pianist Tom Grant. The track is definitively smooth, its ambiance reinforced with backing vocals which give a lyrical R&B ambiance. Grant and Polson trade tasty fours towards the end. On "Blessed," Bruce Conte (Tower of Power) plays a duet with Polson on tenor. The rapport between the two players is deep.
Polson wrote "Black Swan" as a tribute to America's first black-owned record company. Black Swan Records. On the track, Polson is joined by guitarist Phil Upchurch, who offers a nimble solo with quick arpeggios and a warm tone. The texture changes on "Forever Yours," which features Bob Russell on alto flute, Roger Smith on organ and Polson on bass clarinet.
For Lovers Only invites you to sit back, relax and grab a glass of wine. There is enough substance to catch your ears and enough smooth to soothe your mind.
Track Listing: Stella by Starlight; Innocence; Valentine Love; Love On a Two Way Street; La La (Means I Love You); Black Swan, Forever Yours, Passion; For Lovers Only.
Personnel: Kenney Polson: soprano, alto, tenor saxophone, bass clarinet, percussion, keyboard; Fred Wesley: trombone; Bruce Conte: guitar; Roger Smith: Hammond organ; Hans Zurmuehlen: keyboards; Julian Molina: bass, Alonzo Powell: drums; Donald Factory: keyboards, synth bass; Steve Nance, Craig Hall: acoustic guitar; Marlon McClain: electric guitar; M.B. Cotton: drums; Jay Koder: guitar; Wayne Henderson: keyboards, piano; Brian Toel: bass; Graham Lear: drums; Crystal Jackson, Cheryl Lockett, Carol J. Toca, Raymond Williams: background vocals; Mombo Hernandez, Marcos Reyes, Anthony C. Polson: percussion; Trent Baarsphul: guitar; Bob Russell: alto flute; Leon Jones: bass; Nate Grisby: drums; Pablo Rivarola: trumpet; Cotrell Billingsly: trombone; Michael Severson: piano, keys; Grady McKenzie: bass; Dave Hagen: drums.
Title: For Lovers Only
| Year Released: 2019
| Record Label: Prodigee Records
As a songwriter and vocalist, I love jazz for the experience of being in the center of intense creativity. It is the most potent form of music for keeping the artist and the audience in the 'now. Being in the moment is essential for humans, and we need help in learning how to do that. As a songwriter, I need the depth of musicality that jazz voicings can give my stories. My songs seem light and whimsical, but the message is not.
I met my main collaborator, Mark Fitzgibbon, at one of his gigs. I needed to do my first original album, and his playing was masterful, robust, and beautiful. At the time, I didn't realize how suited we were as a team. We're onto our 4rth album together.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to a really clear and simple version of a song so you can then hear what the musicians are doing and enjoy their creativity and musicality. Also, you have to see jazz live to appreciate it fully. You'll never feel it the same way listening to a CD or online. You need the vibration to go through your body to really get it!
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