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Stunning covers of Johnny Mercer and Freddie Hubbard among highlights of new album


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Trumpet, meet master. In the hands of Steve Klenke, the trumpet becomes a paintbrush in which he can render stunningly beautiful imagery, from the playful innocence of a “Little Sunflower" to the awe-inspiring majesty of an “Evening Star." With or without words, the songs on Klenke's latest album, Tangerine, bloom in Technicolor. They are brightly lit and are brimming with good vibrations; combining jazz standards with his own timeless compositions, Klenke offers the best of the past and present with a consistent high standard of performance.

The sprightly trumpet and tinkling piano of “Little Sunflower" open the record on an engaging, blissfully tuneful note. More than just a cover of the Freddie Hubbard classic, it features some of Klenke's most soulful playing. He sounds truly inspired here, but it is only the beginning, the introductory track on an album that is relentless in its ability to soothe and mesmerize. When Klenke's trumpet soars atop the swaying rhythms of Johnny Mercer's title cut, it is absolutely breathtaking.

Joined by saxophonist Kanoa Kaluhiwa, pianist Jim Ahrend, bassist Jonathan McMillan, guitarist Arnold Cordon, and drummer Matt Thomas, Klenke keeps the atmosphere upbeat and loose. “New Mexico Rain" is positively thumping, and the pumping bass lines on “Breathless" are a speaker-blasting gas. Gayle Bisesi contributes silky soft crooning to “Breathless," giving that balance of toe-tapping energy and ear-caressing smoothness. Through it all, Klenke schools everybody on the art of the trumpet, displaying some mighty skills.

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