To "Just Play" Tom Kennedy met his own friends All Stars
hands of a master, the bass can become as commanding an instrument in jazz as
any horn or keyboard. Yet mastery is not just a case of conspicuous technical
prowess. What makes a bassist truly special is a rare combination of
imagination, taste and empathy –all mated with monster chops. Tom
Kennedy , an in-demand player who has recorded or perfomed with a vast
range artists including Michael Brecker in Steps Ahead, Tania Maria, Al
DiMeola, Mike Stern, David Sanborn, Joe Sample and Lee Ritenour, among others,
is just such and inspiring bassist. His latest album, Just Play –release the
past july by Capri Records- confirms the acclaim that Kennedy has garnered from those already in the know, and gives
notice to those who have yet to discover this superb instrumentalist.
event, Just Play features drummer Dave
Weckl, with whom Kennedy has a
long friendship and recording history; guitarists Mike Stern and Lee Ritenour,
pianist Renee Rosnes, tenor
saxophonists George Garzone and Steve Wirts, trombonist John Alfred and trumpeter Tim Hagans.
one day at the recognize Nola Studios in NYC, with most of the tunes captured on
the first take, Kennedy’s fourth CD as a leader is a testament to the
prowess and virtuosity of all the musicians involved. The album is also a
testament to the transformative power that occurs when superior players find
themselves in a shared comfort zone. Goading each other to new heights on
classic material that can bring out the best in a commited improviser, the song
standards “What is this Things Called Love” and “The Night Has a Thousand Eyes”,
as well as such jazz standardsas “Airegin”
(complete with a wailing solo by Garzone). “Moanin” (a slow and soulful
rendition featuring Ritenour), “In a Sentimental Mood”, Lee Morgan’s “Ceora” and Cedar Walton’s “Bolivia”
inspire both snapping solos and deply in-the-pocket support by rhythm section.
Throughout, Kennedy acts as both the rock-solid foundation on which the action
rides and, whenhe steps into the
spotlight, an imposing soloist.
Burns, President of Capri Records states, “I first worked with Tom Kennedy on
Ken Peplowski’s In Search of…recording.
I was astounded with his playingand
his ability to link up with all the other cats on the date. Most bassists I’ve
heard emulate another’s style. But while Tom is deeply rooted in the tradition
of legendary bassists like Ray Brown and Paul Chambers, he solos more like a
project that tellingly exhibitsthe
trust and creative interaction that Kennedyenjoys with his A-list musician friends, Just
Play also speaks of the St. Louis native’s deep respect for his brother
Ray, with whom Kennedy has
previously recorded. “I’ve dedicated this recording to my brother for so many
reasons. He has always been such an inspiration to me, as a phenomenal pianist,
composer and arranger, and even more, through his incredible spirit of giving.
Music has always been such a sharing, nurturing experience between Ray and
anyone he perfomed with. The beauty of what music really is remains in his soul
to this day, despite his inability to perform after the onset o multiple
sclerosis in 2008. Ray Kennedy is a true hero to me and everyone else having
the good fortune to share in his music”.
Just Play makes it obvious that Tom Kennedy shares with his brother – and each of
excellent players who enliven the project – a similar understanding of the
essence of music. Beauty and excitement are in plain sight-just play the album
and hear it for yourself.
Kennedyisnowon tour withLeeRitenourbyJapanand then continueacross EuropewithMikeSternuntil later thismonth.