Kenny Kirkland

Kenny Kirkland

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Keyboardist Kenny Kirkland's long-overdue debut as a leader really stretches his talents and is occasionally unpredictable. Virtually each of the performances has its own personality and the personnel and instrumentation differ throughout the release. Among the highlights is "Mr. J.C." (which features some stormy Branford Marsalis tenor), an electric Latin but still boppish update of Bud Powell's "Celia" (taken as a duet with percussionist Don Alias), the struttin' "Steepian Faith," a driving rendition of Ornette Coleman's "When Will the Blues Leave" that has some free bop alto from Roderick Ward, and Latin versions (with percussionist Jerry Gonzalez) of two standards not normally thought of as belonging to that idiom: Wayne Shorter's "Ana Maria" and Thelonious Monk's "Criss Cross." This highly recommended CD has more than its share of brilliant moments.

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