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What a better way to get the ball rolling for “Pop” stars Greg and Pat Kane aka “Hue & Cry” to cut a Jazz based record than to enlist the estimable services of guitarist Mike Stern, the Brecker Brothers, saxophonist Tommy Smith, drummer Danny Gottlieb and others. Some of the initial press releases are comparing this outing to the legendary hybrid rockers, Steely Dan. Are we getting suspicious yet? Well, Jazz not Jazz is actually a welcome surprise and rather entertaining thanks to the soloists, crisp horn arrangements, crystalline production and the pleasant compositional mix.
Pop-star, vocalist Pat Kane along with brother Greg who performs on acoustic piano call themselves “Hue & Cry” and have reportedly sold quite a few records in Europe while also touring with the likes of rockers U2 and Pop Queen - Madonna. The proceedings get off to a quick start with the piece titled, “Free Like You” which features saxophonist-arranger Nigel Hitchcock’s mini-big band style horn charts, a burning tenor sax solo by Tommy Smith, punchy rhythms and some Bobby Darin type hipster vocals from Pat Kane. On “Iron Cage” guitar god Mike Stern adds his easily identifiable – chops of doom – via a mid-tempo swing although in certain spots, Kane does seem to convey a certain uneasiness with the jazz “vocal” language. This notion becomes a tad more prominent on the rapid swing-like numbers as Kane more than compensates with clear diction and soulful articulations on upbeat and rollicking compositions such as "All True Man". Here, Greg Kane provides the thrust with heavy-handed chord progressions along with Brian Kellock’s tasty fender rhodes solo.
Tenor saxophonist Michael Brecker takes charge on, “Virus of Love” which boasts a powerful hybrid Latin-Rock motif yet vocal choruses of; ”like a virus of love I will hate you and you, like a virus of love I will kick right on through to anybody”...seems a bit tacky or poetically disproportionate. “Makin’ Whoopee” features Kane’s breezy, grooving, vocals atop a sturdy Funk/R&B style backbeat along with Randy Brecker’s riveting trumpet solo while guitarist Mike Stern brings down the house on “Austere and Beautiful”.
At the very least, Jazz not Jazz could serve as a wake up call for many of those who are uninitiated to the world of jazz. With peppery arrangements, passionate vocals and a sterling production, “Hue & Cry” should be commended for their spirited approach and acute “jazz” sensibilities. We have a feeling that this recording will receive its fair share of radio airplay and deservedly so – Especially when considering much of the transparent, facile smooth jazz gracing the airwaves these days, this outing should provide a breath of fresh air. * * *
Pat Kane; Lead Vocals: Greg Kane; Acoustic Piano: Ewen Vernal; Electric Bass: Sandro Cianncio; Drums & Percussion: Steve Sidwell; Trumpet: Nigel Hitchcock: Horn Arrangements, Alto, Tenor & Baritone Saxophones: Mike Stern; Guitar: Brian Kellock; Rhodes Piano: Tommy Smith; Tenor & Soprano Saxophone: Michael Brecker; Rhodes Piano: Nick Pamphilon; Drums: Danny Gottlieb; Trumpet: Randy Brecker.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.