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September 2007

Phil Kelly & the SW Santa Ana Winds
My Museum
Origin Records

In 2003 a cross-pollination of Pacific Northwest and L.A. jazz communities resulted in Kelly’s first Origin album, Convergence Zone. It happened again in ’06, leading to this masterpiece. No rehearsal time. As Kelly explained, “It was straight gonzo.” Thanks to the growing comfort level, the guys simply devoured the charts. “Jeannine,” “Daydream” and “Zip Code 2005” reveal Kelly’s expertise with taut clusters. “It’s a Lazy Afternoon” (in 6/4) and “Bluelonious” (suggesting Monk’s “Misterioso”) explore wide sectional voicings. On “Pleading Dim Cap,” Kelly juggles diminished chords and counterpoint simultaneously. On “Body & Soul,” he mischievously inserts four quotes from Sonny Rollins’ “St. Martin.” The very best soloists from both camps are heard: trumpeters Bob Summers and Jay Thomas, trombonist Andy Martin, altoist Lanny Morgan, tenorists Pete Christlieb and Brian Scanlon, baritonist Bill Ramsay and guitarist Grant Geissman. Despite the intense jazz, the highlight is the title track, a gorgeous Kelly tune with a poignant lyric by Marissa Dodge-Bartlett, sung by Seattle’s top jazz vocalist, Greta Matassa. While Matassa negotiates the rangy melody with Streisand-like expressiveness, Kelly drapes it with a complement of 11 strings, flute and clarinet doublings, and bucket-muted trombones.

Originally published in September 2007
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