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January/February 2009

George Kahn
Cover Up!
Playing

Here pianist George Kahn presents jazz versions of “songs [he] grew up with,” in clean, full-bodied arrangements for his trio (bassist Brian Bromberg, drummer Alex Acuña) and rotating guests (tenor saxophonist Justo Almario, trumpeter John Fumo, guitarist Pat Kelley, vocalist Courtney Lemmon). Jazz musicians regularly cover some of these songs (“Eleanor Rigby,” “Use Me”). Kahn’s translations are more literal than adventurous. “Sunshine of Your Love” has appeared much less often in jazz, for good reason. Kahn’s cutesy rendition makes his trio sound like an unusually skilled bad lounge band.

“Yesterday” by Lennon/McCartney is also too sweet by half, but interest is created when Jerome Kern’s “Yesterdays” gets appended to it and Kahn and Bromberg commingle the two songs in their solos.

The strongest tracks are Kahn originals. On “Wes’ Coast,” Kelley’s celebratory guitar octaves and Fumo’s piercing muted horn conjure an imaginary meeting between Wes Montgomery and Miles Davis. Fumo and Almario are gutsy and believable on another Kahn tribute, “Mitchell’s Blues,” a fond recollection of Horace Silver’s great front line with Blue Mitchell and Junior Cook.

Originally published in January/February 2009
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