Gene Burkert

Jazz Palette

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Multi-reed player Gene Burkert has recorded sporadically as a leader, though he has excelled as a sideman on a number of other recordings. Alternating between alto, tenor and soprano saxes, flute and alto flute, clarinet and bass clarinet (sometimes within a single song), Burkert assembled a top-notch core group, including pianist Christian Jacob (known for his work with vocalist Tierney Sutton and the late Maynard Ferguson), bassist Trey Henry (also a regular with Sutton) and drummer David Tull, with guitarist Larry Koonse added on selected tracks. The opener is a surprising choice: "Sugar," taken from one of Stanley Turrentine's fusion dates for CTI. This interpretation packs a much more powerful punch due to the strength of the rhythm section, while Burkert finds his own voice on alto rather than choosing tenor. The leader switches to tenor for an initially spacey arrangement of the standard "Yesterdays" that quickly evolves into a post-bop cooker, with Koonse's guitar taking the place of the piano. "The Very Thought of You" gives Burkert the opportunity to introduce a talented young singer, Celena Veres, while arranger George Stone contributed a chart that enabled the leader to overdub several instruments to back her. All of Burkert's originals are of interest, especially "Alikeness," a choice vehicle for soprano sax. It's obvious that Gene Burkert deserves the opportunity to record as a leader more often after hearing this recommended session.

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