West Coast jazz pianist George Kahn revisits past successes on Secrets From The Jazz Ghetto selecting some of his best compositions from five of his previous six albums for this compilation recording. This seventh outing contains 26 pieces covering a range of styles from contemporary to bebop, and from Bossa Nova to Latin and Cool jazz. Though the main repertoire on this two-disc set album reprises music recorded between 1998 to 2008, there are seven new recordings revealed here as the first of Kahn's secrets. The music is quite varied, accessible and challenging to the core, an obvious conclusion after a sampling of the albumand that's no secret.
The first four pieces on disc one (Nightside), are new recordings beginning with the Brazilian-shaded "Sombras De Noite" (Night Shadow) featuring Luba Mason on vocals and guitarist Pat Kelly. Harold Arlen's classic "Over The Rainbow" is the next piece enjoying another new interpretation that showcases saxophonist Andy Suzuki and Kahn on delicate solos. The third tune, "Waltz For Diana" is special for Kahn, penned for his wife, to whom the entire album is dedicated and is five minutes of pure West Coast bop pleasure. The pianist is masterful on "My Funny Valentine" both on the keys and in the unique arrangement he provides. The melody is painted with glowing soprano lines from Suzuki and a bit of improvisation on his part makes the tune just a tad challenging to discern.
Vocalist Tierney Sutton appears on a couple of originals, including "One Moment of Your Life" which had been previously recorded, but unreleased until now. "Evan's Eleven" comes out swinging with a funky perky beat behind M.B. Gordy's strong stick work on the last gyrating number of the set. "Wayne's World" takes a more contemporary road ending the album on a high note, an expansive nine-minute plus finale featuring brilliant tenor lines once again from Suzuki, tantalizing piano play from the leader, and stellar bass lines from Karl Vincent.
Kahn draws on five tracks from Midnight Brew (Playing Records, 2002) including "A Bop for Billy," "Swiss Cheese" and the title track, with saxophonist Eric Marienthal and trumpeter Bobby Rodriguez. "Say Goodbye" and "The Big 4-0" are two pieces showcasing trumpeter Wayne Bergeron among the four charts taken from "Out of Time (Playing Records, 1998). The balance of the album contains selected pieces from Freedom Vessel (Playing Records 2000), Compared To What? (Playing Records, 2004), and his highly acclaimed Cover Up (Playing Records, 2008).
For those not familiar with George Kahn's music, Secrets From The Ghetto is the perfect vehicle to get acquainted with one of the finest pianist and composers in the jazz world today. Delivering a variety of styles recorded with some of the best jazz musicians in the world, this album provides a good bang for the buck with a number of outstanding musical scores included. That's the real secret here.
Track Listing: CD1: Sombras De Noite ( Night Shadows ); Over The Rainbow; Waltz For Diana; My Funny Valentine; See Cruise; Say Goodbye; Benji; Freedom Vessel; Open House; Out of Time; One Moment of Your Life; 5 To Get Ready, 10 To Go; The Hero's Journey. CD2: Too Much Sax; The Big 4-0; Millennium Schmellenium; Evan's Seven; A Bop For Billy; Swiss Cheese; Midnight Brew; Mercedes The Lady; Gnomesayin'; Wes' Coast; Mitchell's Blues; Evan's Eleven; Wayne's World.
Personnel: George Kahn: piano; Karl Vincent: bass (CD1#1-3, 10-12, CD2#5-7, 12, 13); Richard Reed: bass (CD1#5-7, CD2#2); Brian Bromberg: bass (CD1#12, 13, CD2#1, CD2#9-11); Dave Carpenter: bass ( CD1#8, CD2#3, 4); Pat Kelley: guitar (CD1#1, CD2#10); Jerry Kalaf: drums (CD1#1); M.B. Gordy: drums, percussion (CD1#2, 3, 8-11, CD2#3-7, 12, 13); Billy Higgins: drums (CD1#5-7, CD2#2); Joe LaBarbera: drums (CD2#3, 4); Alex Acuna: drums (CD1#12, 13, CD2#8-11); Andy Suzuki: saxophone (CD1#2-4, CD2#12, 13); Eric Marienthal: saxophone (CD1#5, 7, 8, CD2#1-7); Justo Almario: saxophone (CD1#11, 12, CD2#8); Wayne Bergeron: trumpet (CD1#10, 12, 13, CD2#3-7); John Fumo: trumpet ( CD2#8-11); Luba Mason: vocals (CD1#1); Tierney Sutton: vocals (CD1#10, 11); Kevin Ricard: percussion (CD2#7).