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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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KENNY DREW

Four Classic Albums

Avid AMSC 1088

 

 


CD1

Introducing The Kenny Drew Trio

1. Yesterdays

2. Stella By Starlight

3. Gloria

4. Be My Love

5. Lover Come Back To Me

6. Everything Happens To Me

7. It Might As Well Be Spring

8. Drew’s Blues

Kenny Drew – Piano

Curly Russell – Bass

Art Blakey – Drums

This Is New

9. This Is New

10. Carol

11. It’s You Or No One

12. You’re My Thrill

13. Little T

14. Paul’s Pal

15. Why Do I Love You?

Tracks 9-11

Kenny Drew – Piano

Donald Byrd – Trumpet

Hank Mobley – Tenor sax

Wilbur Ware – Bass

G.T. Hogan – Drums

Tracks 12-15

Kenny Drew – Piano

Donald Byrd – Trumpet

Wilbur Ware – Bass

G.T. Hogan - Drums

Talkin’ & Walkin’

16.Talkin’-Walkin’

Kenny Drew – Piano

Joe Maini – Alto sax, tenor sax

Leroy Vinnegar – Bass

Lawrence Marable – Drums

CD2

Talkin’ & Walkin’

1. In The Prescribed Manner

2. Prelude To a Kiss

3. Wee Dot

4. Hidden Channel

5. Deadline

6. I’m Old Fashioned

7. Minor Blues

8. Walkin’-Talkin’

Kenny Drew – Piano

Joe Maini – Alto sax, tenor sax

Leroy Vinnegar – Bass

Lawrence Marable – Drums

Jazz Impressions of Rodgers & Hart - Pal Joey

9. Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered

10. Do It The Hard Way

11. I Didn’t Know What Time It Was

12. Happy Hunting Horn

13. I Could Write A Book

14. What Is A Man?

15. My Funny Valentine

16. The Lady Is A Tramp

Kenny Drew – Piano

Wilbur Ware – Bass

Philly Joe Jones – Drums

 

Kenny Drew was a bop-oriented pianist in the Bud Powell/Hampton Hawes mould who made his mark early in his career while he still lived in the United States. He left for Paris in 1961 and eventually settled in Copenhagen in 1964 where he spent the rest of his life. When asked in 1979 why he chose to live there he replied: “A good piano, good food and people, no prejudice, and a real appreciation of what we do. If anyone asks why I’ve been here so long, all they have to do is visit”. The four albums compiled in this Avid Jazz re-issue are from Drew’s earliest recording dates as a leader.

CD1

Introducing The Kenny Drew Trio/This Is New/Talkin’&Walkin’

Despite the mushy sounding and slightly out-of-tune piano, Kenny Drew’s musical personality jumps out from the opening phrase of Yesterdays as offered on his introductory trio session. Taken at breakneck speed, Drew previews what is to become his singular style: a strong right hand with single-note lines offered with rhythmic energy. Once out of the gate, there is no stopping Drew from this up-tempo foray and he makes mincemeat of Be My Love, Lover Come Back To Me and It Might As Well Be Spring, all the while pushing bassist Curly Russell and drummer Art Blakey to keep up. Everything Happens To Me is done in a standard ballad style with some restrained brush work from Blakey.

This Is New really is new as it showcases Drew as the leader of a boppish quintet which features Donald Byrd on trumpet and Hank Mobley on tenor sax for the first three tracks, and then with only Byrd as part of the quartet sessions. Byrd, who died in February of this year at eighty was a straight-ahead bop trumpeter with a sparkling tone and steadfast technique along the lines of Clifford Brown. Hank Mobley was once described by the jazz critic Leonard Feather as the “middleweight champion of the tenor saxophone” because he had a more melodic and softer tone that either John Coltrane or Sonny Rollins who were the “heavyweights” in the category. As they work together on This Is New, Carol, and It’s You Or No One, their briskly flowing hard-bop interplay is evident. All the while Drew’s dexterous and creative playing demonstrates their melodic collaboration. The quartet tracks are no less effective but perhaps not so much in a bop vein. Although this was clearly a Drew session, Byrd’s trumpet was a leading voice on the tracks which capitalized on his sparkling tone, clear delivery, and his strength in carrying a melody. Nowhere were these traits more evident than on You’re My Thrill and his own composition Little T. There is no shortage of Drew’s briskly flowing piano whether as a soloist or simply providing the chording support for Byrd. The final track on this CD is from the album Talkin’ & Walkin’ which will be covered in more detail when discussing CD2.

CD2

Talkin’ & Walkin’/Jazz Impressions of Rodgers &Hart - Pal Joey

The first album on CD2 (including the last track on CD1) was originally recorded in 1955 on the Jazz West label and featured the then working quartet led by Drew and offered six of his original compositions out of the nine-track set. Regardless of their origination, this is a straight-forward jazz session whether the tune is a ballad or an up-tempo frolic. Drew and reedman Joe Maini carry the load in terms of the solo space, but Maini in particular is given a chance to demonstrate his robust tone and attentive flair. His lengthy solo on the ballad I’m Old Fashioned shows his originality on alto. Drew takes his own composition Minor Blues and gives it an effervescent blues reading, with the walking bass lines provided by Leroy Vinnegar holding the tune together.

Pal Joey first came to Broadway on December 25, 1940 based on some stories written by John O’Hara, with words and music by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart. Since then it has had many Broadway incarnations and was made into a movie in 1957 that starred Frank Sinatra, Rita Hayworth and Kim Novak. This session by Kenny Drew and the trio combines some of the music from both the Broadway and movie versions of the story. Not forsaking his bop background, Drew imbues these outstanding melodies with traditional bop lines and phrases strengthened by his creative perception. In this compelling session, some of the standout tunes are I Didn’t Know What Time It Was, I Could Write a Book and The Lady Is A Tramp.

Kenny Drew has been a somewhat neglected and under-appreciated bop-oriented pianist. This reissue should help regenerate some interest in his music.

Pierre Giroux



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