Royce Campbell

Get Happy

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Joe Kennedy was a very talented and swinging violinist who never quite became famous in the jazz world. His work as a music educator, including directing the jazz program at Virginia Tech, kept him out of the spotlight much of the time. He had associations with Ahmad Jamal and Billy Taylor, both of whom he recorded with, but he never really had a breakthrough. Shortly before his death in 2005, Kennedy was recorded in a trio with leader/guitarist Royce Campbell and bassist Paul Langosch. The group performed a set of songs all having to do with happiness, including "I Want to Be Happy," "Smile," and such originals as "Joyous Blues," "I'm on a Cloud," and "Happy Rhythm." The setting was perfect for the violinist, who sounds in consistently joyful form throughout, swinging hard and with wit. He often plays the melodies pizzicato, although he was also an expert bower. Campbell and Langosch also have their spots, but they made sure that Joe Kennedy was the featured star throughout one of the finest recordings of his career.

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