Kevin McKendree

Hammers & Strings

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From the start of this CD, a very spirited version of Lionel Hampton's "Boogie Woogie" (here renamed "Boogie #427), through a set full of boogie-woogie piano (even on non-blues tunes), blues ballads, and New Orleans-style R&B, this is a delightful outing. Kevin McKendree's piano style mixes together boogie-woogie, Ramsey Lewis, and Ray Bryant without sounding like a copy of any of them. He and drummer Big Joe Maher (who recalls Ray Charles and Charles Brown) each take two vocals, including one apiece with the backing of a tasteful three-voice vocal section. The other players are fine, but it is McKendree's piano (occasionally augmented by organ) that keeps the excitement really going. Highlights include a laid-back "Let's Get Go Stoned," "Just Before Sunrise," "Fool's Paradise," and "Sixty Sharp Knives." This accessible outing is well worth checking out.

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