A jazz flutist who plans to record using only a standard three-member rhythm section as back-up should best be musically astute, technically sound, love what he (or she) is doing and harbor an ample supply of clever and interesting phrases designed to suit every occasion. Even though Tom Keenlyside checks all the boxes on Fortune Teller, there is only so much that any flutist, no matter how purposeful and talented, can do to ensnare a listener's ear for seventy-six minutes.
That's not to say Keenlyside doesn't pull out all the stops and give every number the best he has to offer. Or that his colleaguespianist Miles Black, bassist Miles Hill, drummer Bernie Araiare any less ardent or decisive. In the end, however, they are a capable trio whose task is to disburse their talents on Keenlyside's behalf (and add respectable solos), which they do quite well. It is up to Keenlyside to steer the craft, a mission he undertakes with dexterity and enthusiasm. Within the above-mentioned limits, this is a generally bright and pleasing flute-plus-trio session.
It is also one that relies in large measure on the compositional skills of Keenlyside and Hill who co-wrote half a dozen of the album's eleven numbers. They're by and large admirable albeit a step or two short of special. On a slightly higher plane, Keenlyside's buoyant "Cuttin' Time" readily stands its ground against the session's brace of decorous standards, "The Summer Knows" and "On a Clear Day." A lesser-known tune, "Senza Fine," passably resembles another standard, Don Raye / Gene de Paul's "Star Eyes." Tempos for the most part are leisurely to moderate, with only "Pratfall," "Closer Than Never," "Cuttin' Time" and "The Burninator" moving at a more rapid pace. In spite of its snappy name, "Velocity" is as much waltz as burner.
If the sound of a flute whets your taste buds, Fortune Teller should provide an abundance of savory nourishment, as Keenlyside proves a worthy successor to Hubert Laws, Moe Koffman, Herbie Mann, Joe Farrell, Rahsaan Roland Kirk and other masters of the instrument. If he'd had more help on the front line the outcome may have been even more impressive.
The Summer Knows; The Fortune Teller; Pratfall; Sunday, Sunday, Someday; Closer Than
Never; On a Clear Day; Cuttin’ Time; Senza Fine; The Dolphin; Velocity; The Burninator.
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