Harvey Wainapel

Ambrosia: The Music of Kenny Barron

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Kenny Barron, who is widely recognized as one of the top modern mainstream jazz pianists, has never been thought of as a major composer, until now. Saxophonist Harvey Wainapel (who is most distinctive on soprano but also quite talented on tenor and alto) put together an ambitious program that pays tribute to Barron's underrated compositional talents. Five songs feature Wainapel backed by the Metropole Orchestra, a large string ensemble conducted by Rob Pronk. Jeff Beal's complex but colorful arrangements really challenge Wainapel to play at his best, and he comes through. The final four numbers showcase Wainapel in a Latin group that co-stars keyboardist Marcos Silva and (on "Sambao") the accordion of Rich Kuhns. Wainapel does a bit of overdubbing on "If and When," trading off with himself on each of his three instruments. None of Kenny Barron's compositions (two of which received their debut on this CD) are close to being standards at this point, with "Ambrosia" and "Sambao" being perhaps the best known. The release of Harvey Wainapel's well-conceived project will hopefully result in Barron's writing ability and Wainapel's playing talents getting the recognition they deserve. Recommended.

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