Kenny Burrell

Primal Blue

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From the 1940s to the 1960s, it was not uncommon for a small record company such as Blue Note, Prestige, or Riverside to assemble a group of jazz musicians for a blowing session and release the results under the name of one of them (and perhaps reissue it under another name if one of the others became more famous later). The same thing seems to have happened here in the 1990s, even though no one has bothered to single out one of the impromptu group members as a de facto leader. That seems fair, since, of the six musicians heard in varying combinations, four of them -- guitarist Kenny Burrell, pianist Cedar Walton, bassist Ron Carter, and drummer Lenny White -- could rank as bandleaders, and yet no one steps out so much that he takes over the date. That would be inappropriate given the laid-back nature of the material, all of which is blues (in the jazz sense), with one track each written by Burrell, Walton, Carter, and White, plus jazz evergreens by John Coltrane and Oliver Nelson and a standard, "You Go to My Head." Saxophonist Craig Handy joins the basic quartet on all tracks except Walton's "Dear Ruth," and trumpeter Tim Hagans plays on White's "Uno Dos Adios," "Dear Ruth," and "Stolen Moments." In keeping with the material, the performances have a late-night feel, easy and informal, resulting in music that, while it was created in 1995, could just as easily have come from 1955.

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