Passionata was a very special project for pianist Kenny Drew, Jr., as it served as a personal tribute to his late father, Kenny Drew. The CD focuses on the senior pianist's compositions, along with a few of his favorites and new works by his son. The title track was an unfinished manuscript found by Drew on his late father's piano. The younger Drew completed the piece, expanding upon Drew Sr.'s initial chord changes to create a stunning mix of hard bop, Latin rhythm, and classical overtones. Drew Jr.'s second version adds a moving string arrangement by Bob Belden. The strings are also present on the bittersweet ballad "Dark Beauty." Joining him for most of the remaining tracks are bassist Peter Washington and drummer Lewis Nash, who have a seemingly effortless ability to play exactly what a leader wants. "Hush-A-Bye" is a Danish folk song that was a favorite of Kenny Drew's; this hard-charging interpretation showcases a fine solo by Nash. The leader composed "Dedication" in tribute to his father, and it is a warm, very lyrical ballad deserving of wider recognition. The arrangements of several standards are equally enjoyable. The buoyant yet understated waltz-time scoring of "When You Wish Upon a Star," the deliciously upbeat "Summertime," and the richly textured solo performance of "It Might As Well Be Spring" all deserve high praise. Although Kenny Drew, Jr. has recorded extensively for a number of labels, this Arkadia CD is one of the few made for a label based in the United States, so it should be readily available. Highly recommended.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden