Kenny Drew, Jr.


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Following the deaths of Milt Jackson, Art Farmer, and Manfredo Fest during the same week in 1999, Kenny Drew, Jr. was moved to honor them. The resulting CD acknowledges the contributions of each of them individually without the all too often bland recreations that makes critics dread such releases. The pianist is accompanied by bassist Santi DeBriano and drummer Tony Jefferson. Vibraphonist Stefon Harris is present on the tracks saluting Milt Jackson, starting off with Jackson's infectious blues standard "Bag's Groove"; Harris shows his debt to Bags while finding his own voice on this classic song, while Drew's imaginative accompaniment darts in and out behind him. Their take on Thelonious Monk's "Epistrophy" (a very appropriate choice since Jackson was present on the first recording of Monk's theme song) is aggressive and still very swinging. Wallace Roney joins the trio to salute Art Farmer; their first choice is "Mirage," a somewhat bittersweet piece recorded by Farmer when Fred Hersch (its composer) was the pianist in his group. Drew's inventive lines and Roney's mournful tone in an otherwise upbeat tune make for compelling listening. Drew's late father not only composed "With Prestige" but was a member of Farmer's quintet when he recorded it in 1956; this version is much brisker, while Roney's tone is just a shade darker than Farmer's. The delicate arrangement of the beautiful ballad "Blame It on My Youth" features Drew with Roney on muted horn. Manfredo Fest is honored by three trio tracks, including Jobim's easygoing bossa nova "Children's Games" and Fest's driving "Bossa Blues No. 2." Drew's introspective solo interpretation of Bill Evans' "We Will Meet Again" is a masterpiece of lyricism and serves as an appropriate requiem for all of the jazz greats who have passed on. This very impressive CD is well worth the investment.

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