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Mike Metheny: KC Potpourri

Dr. Judith Schlesinger By

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KC Potpourri (n)—a goodly bunch of fine Kansas City musicians addressing themselves through a varied and satisfying program. Assembled by trumpeter and former Berklee educator Mike Metheny, these "jazz sounds from the heartland" prove that there's more to Kansas than steak and tornados. In this case, it's a pleasing mix of quartet, quintet, and big band tracks, originals and standards, with some sterling moments, many of them provided by Metheny himself.

A supremely lyrical player, Metheny manages to make his flugelhorn sound like something from in a dream, or gleaming softly through a fog. His very romantic aura is beautifully showcased here on "We'll Be Together Again," brother Pat's lovely "Always and Forever," guitarist Danny Embrey's pensive "Tell Me Now," and "How Insensitive," which Metheny de-clichés by saying more with less. On this, his seventh recording as a leader, he also plays muted cornet and EVI (electronic valve instrument), which has an eight-octave range, is MIDI-capable, and, as he helpfully points out, "can double as a bug sprayer."

Lest you think this is a ballad album, please note that there are some hard-swinging and bluesy tracks, like the crackling yabba-dabba of "The Flintstones Theme," Benny Golson's jaunty "Are You Real?" (where Embrey shines), the high-energy "Hey Man!," and the greasy version of John Lewis's "Two Degrees East, Three Degrees West," with notable solos by bandmates Bob Bowman and Paul Smith.

The Soundtrek Big Band is fine and tight; the CD itself is warmly recorded, very pleasurable, and further evidence of the genetic nature of musical talent.

Track Listing: The Flintstones Theme, Always and Forever, Two Degrees East, Three Degrees West, Tell Me Now, How Insensitive, Are you Real?, Darn That Dream, Hey Man!, We'll Be Together Again

Personnel: Mike Metheny (flugelhorn, cornet, EVI), Paul Smith (piano, keyboards, synthesizers), Roger Wilder (piano), Danny Embrey, Rod Fleeman (guitar), Bob Bowman, Gerald Spaits (bass), Tommy Ruskin, Todd Strait (drums). With The Soundtrek Big Band: Kim Park, Todd Wilkinson (alto sax, flute), Hal Melia (tenor sax, flute), Doug Talley (tenor sax), Kerry Strayer (baritone sax), Steve Dekker, Jim Cann, Phil Thomas (trombone), Rich Coble (bass trombone), Steve Molloy, Bob Harvey, Jay Sollenberger, Barry Springer (trumpet, flugelhorn), Joe Cartwright (piano), Danny Embrey (guitar), Tim Brewer (bass), Tom Morgan (drums).

Title: KC Potpourri | Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: 3 Valve Music


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