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Consisting of all original compositions, Mike Kennedy's self-produced Idle Afternoon stays firmly based in the pre-hard bop lexicon, interpreting swinging and straight-ahead tunes. A Philadelphia-based guitarist, Kennedy possesses a rich, thick, soulful sound. The opening "I'll Take Two features Kennedy laying down some harmonious and stimulating lines. The album's piece de resistance is the closing track, "Days End, where he performs a three-plus minute solo. Throughout the recording, Kennedy eschews flashy displays and sticks with ballads and mid-tempo pieces. His playing displays first-class technique and an impeccable sense of time.
Pianist Mike Frank also stands out here, providing tasteful comping on the title track as well as "Gilded Garden. Frank gets the chance to step into spotlight on "Territory and "Walk In The Park, and he takes full advantage by providing some forceful solo work. Frank's supportive playing throughout the release enables Kennedy to take flight, and the interplay between the two is one of the highlights of this release.
The rhythm section also features bassist Paul Gehman and drummer Dan Monaghan, and they do an admirable job of keeping the music flowing. Monaghanwho was also on board on Kennedy's 2002 debut release, Quartet #1seems to possess the same the sensibilities as the leader. Subtly propelling the music when needed, or coloring the tunes with his understated playing, he proves to be a perfect complement to the others.
Idle Afternoon is an excellent foray in mainstream jazz guitar. One often expects a certain freshness in a recording of all-original music, but one does not always expect the well crafted, harmonically rich music found here. Listeners who enjoy this genre will find much to savor on this recording.
As a kid, my mom told me I'd like jazz. I thought she was nuts. Then I went to hear Cannonball Adderley (with Nat Adderley, George Duke, Walter Booker, Roy McCurdy and Airto) and everything changed. Yeah, mom knows best.