KENNY BURRELL – Tenderly – Solo Guitar Concert – High Note

by | Sep 24, 2011 | Jazz CD Reviews

KENNY BURRELL – Tenderly – Solo Guitar Concert – High Note Records HCD 7227, 66:50 ****:
Kenny Burrell is a most important force in development of hard-bop guitar, displaying a rich character and comfortable solo style to complement his blues phrasing. His early collaborations with organist Jimmy Smith set the table for the guitar’s standing as an underpinning in modern jazz.
In Tenderly Burrell steps out of his usual comfort zone to undertake several live solo guitar concerts between 2007 and 2009, from The Theatre@Boston Court, Pasadena California. Using a variety of both electric and acoustic guitars, Burrell delivers an eclectic performance to match his guitars. Any solo concert is both rewarding and challenging. Rewarding, because it allows the artist the freedom to speak musically and emotionally directly to the audience, and challenging because there is no room to hide and look for support from other members of the band.
Burrell shows his mettle as he leads off with the lovely ballad and the title tune Tenderly. This piece is perfectly suited to create the mood Burrell is trying to establish to engage the audience. As Burrell continued on his foray with a variety of musical offerings, he dazzled the audience with his voicing on his own composition “Remembering Wes”, which is one of four of his tunes on the disc. The others include a bluesy “Soulful Brothers” written for his brother Billy, and a Duke Ellington inspired vocal offering “Be Yourself”.   Finally using the acoustic guitar, Burrell gives in to his classical nature with “Prelude No.3: Butterflying. (Excerpt)”
Building an interesting solo concert is no easy task, but Burrell found a way to keep the attention of the audience with three melodic portraits. In the Billie Holiday section, his rendition of “But Beautiful” is exactly that. No concert would be complete without some homage to Duke Ellington. With economy and subtlety of phrasing, Burrell glides through a number of well-known Ellington compositions, but “Azure” and ‘Warm Valley” standout. The romantic couplet of “Why Did I Chose You?” and “My Foolish Heart” gives the hand-holders a reason to squeeze.
Kenny Burrell has been a very significant jazz guitarist since the mid-1950s.  At the time of these concerts he was well into his seventh decade, but his straightforward and harmonious style was still undiminished.
TrackList: Tenderly; Remembering Wes; Autumn Leaves; Billy Holiday Tribute Medley (No More; Don’t Explain; But Beautiful); A Child Is Born; What A Wonderful World; Soulful Brothers; Ellingtonia Montage (Azure; I Ain’t Got Nothin’ But The Blues; Do Nothin’ ‘Till You Hear From Me; Star Crossed Lovers; Warm Valley; David Danced; Come Sunday); Come On Blues; Recado Bossa Nova; Couplet Romantic (Why Did I Chose You?; My Foolish Heart); Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most; Be Yourself; Come Rain Or Come Shine; Prelude No.3: Butterflying (Excerpt)
—Pierre Giroux

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