Sunday, March 13, 2011

Kenny Burrell Lively Guitar Remains True to Himself

Be Yourself: Live at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola (HighNote) is the latest recording by the great guitarist Kenny Burrell. It comes from a live performance at the Jazz at Lincoln Center venue with a group that includes Tivon Pennicott on tenor sax and flute; Benny Green on piano, Peter Washington on bass, and Clayton Cameron on drums. This is a strong, what might have once been called, mainstream session, matching Burrell’s fleet and fluent lyricism with a strong rhythm section and Pennicott’s robust playing on a program of mostly jazz standards.

Pennicott’s sax and flute provide an energizing bite that can be reflected in Burrell’s playing on the solid rendition of Billy Strayhorn’s
Raincheck, with a nice latin groove and Benny Green’s piano also sounding dynamic. Opening was a nice Tin Tin Deo, from the Dizzy Gillespie repertoire with Burrell sounding quite lyrical. Pennicott’s impressive flute playing is impressively featured on Burrell’s ballad, Listen to the Dawn, followed by the leader with some precious playing. This is followed by a lively rendition of Kenny Dorham’s classic Blue Bossa, with Pennicott and Burrell standing out and Cameron is outstanding pushing the groove and his use of dynamics especially in his use of brushes during his solo. Be Yourself is a solo guitar feature for the leader, while Bass Face, with a prancing melodic hook, was originally written by Burrell for Ray Brown and spotlights Washington here.

Pennicott is featured on Ellington’s
In a Sentimental Mood, and responds with some wonderful playing. Will Davis, a Detroit pianist, wrote Mark I, in the mid-fifties, and Burrell is scintillating on this. Burrell and the group close this with the classic Milt Jackson blues, Bag’s Groove. A solid hour plus of swinging bop-inflected jazz that is beautifully recorded. Be Yourself is a solid addition to Kenny Burrell’s formidable body of recordings.

This review was written originally for
Jazz & Blues Report from whom I received the review copy.

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