Kathy Kelly

A Different Vibe

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Other than piano, guitar, and if you consider it an instrument, voice, there are relatively few women who have made their mark as an instrumentalist. The most famous distaff vibraphonist was Margie Hyams, who worked with Woody Herman and George Shearing before leaving music in 1950. Of contemporary vibes players, Cecilia Smith stands out. Now enter Kathy Kelly, with her maiden CD as a leader, performing with her group, aptly named Vibration. All the cuts on this CD are Kelly compositions, covering styles and tempi from swing through Latin and romantic ballads to modern rhythms, and the group comports itself well in all forms. For a swinging bop tune, there's a tribute to the fine but under-recognized tenor man with "Calling Eddie Harris." The slightly avant-gardish "Letting Go" is controlled by quirky, off-center rhythmic patterns laid down by Jim Widlowski's drums. A more athletic piece is a swinging samba with "K. C. and Samba." Delineating Kelly's sensitivity to the ballad style is the lovely, pensive "Dancing Bears," where John McLean's soft-strummed guitar sets the mood for this piece. And so it goes. Each cut has a musical message to deliver different from the track that preceded it and all that follow. The one absolute is the resonance created by Kelly's four-mallet style. Kelly is to be credited for allowing each member of her group many opportunities to play on their own. She has been on the jazz scene since 1978, and has worked with numerous jazz artists and at concerts and festivals. That it has taken this long to get her on disc is another anomaly of the recording business.

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