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An accomplished musician known for his prowess on electric bass, Tom Kennedy fronts a nine-piece ensemble of top-notch players delivering engaging new interpretations of well-known jazz standards on Just Play!, his fourth album as leader. While much of his experience performing progressive and mainstream jazz has been on the electric bass, Kennedy's first experience began on double bass at the age of eleven. Here, the bassist leads the performance on his vintage St. Louis legend Jerry Cherry Bohemian upright bass.
The album takes on special significance for the bassist as he dedicates the project to his brother Ray, a pianist and composer with whom he has previously recorded, but who no longer performs since the onset of multiple sclerosis in 2008. With a little help from the likes of saxophonist great George Garzone
' classic "Moanin.'" Garzone is one of the main forces of the disc, wielding his mighty tenor with expressive authority throughout. Ritenour, with whom the bassist has collaborated on many other endeavors, also makes his presence known on this soulful tune. Though there's plenty of outstanding quick-finger play by Kennedy on his robust take on Victor Young's "The Night Has A Thousand Eyes," it's the horn section of Hagans, trombonist John Allred
applies a little gentleness on the keys to make this rendition one of the best around. The only non-standard and perhaps, the most spacious piece of the set, is the lengthy (10+ minutes) Stern original "One Liners," where the guitarist takes center stage. Returning to standards, Kennedy's arrangement of Duke Ellington
's familiar "What Is This Thing Called Love" rounds out one of the finest sets of straight-ahead material produced to date. Kennedy's album title seems to capture it all: music from a talent-rich cast, invigorating arrangements and exciting musical statements forged by two simple words: Just Play!
Track Listing: Airegin; Moanin'; The Night Has A Thousand Eyes; Ceora; One Liners; In A Sentimental Mood; Bolivia; In Your Own Sweet Way; What Is This Thing Called Love.
Personnel: Tom Kennedy: acoustic bass; Dave Weckl: drums; Renee Rosnes: piano; George Garzone: tenor saxophone; Mike Stern: guitar; Tim Hagans: trumpet; Lee Ritenour: guitar; John Allred: trombone; Steve Wirts: tenor saxophone.