Here’s the latest from a true legend. Kenny’s been doing it for so long, and doing it as well as or better than everyone else, that it’s foolish to even think there’d be something bad to say about this release. And there really isn’t. there is something a little different about it, though. Kenny sings on four cuts. Yes, one of the world’s greatest jazz guitarists sings. And to no one’s surprise, he sings wonderfully.
First, let’s hit his playing. Like many of his albums, this one has somewhat of a thematic feel. It’s a quiet album, bluesy in many respects. As always, Kenny’s playing is…well, pick a word; brilliant…fabulous…magnificent. It’s almost a definition of jazz playing. It’s bluesy, it swings soft, it swings hard. His chordal work will leave you smiling. It’s, in a word, perfect.
What’s really nice is that although you’ve heard some of these songs before, they all sound new. He never has a problem infusing a recognizable song with something new. And his chordal/single-line 1:20 intro to “Tenderly” is worth the price of admission by itself.
Now for the singing. He’s done a little before, but not like this. “My Ship” gives him a shot at ballad singing, and he does it well. He has lots of fun with the title cut, singing it great and playing a wonderful bluesy solo. And his fun scat in “Squeeze Me” might bring to mind the late, great Joe Williams, but the vocal style is all his own.
I feel kind of silly even recommending this one. If you’re a fan, you’ll pick it up. And, if you’re not, start here and continue to some of the greatest jazz guitar albums in history. It’s a journey you won’t regret.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Sept. ’01 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.