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March 1997

John Jenkins and Kenny Burrell
John Jenkins with Kenny Burrell
Blue Note Records

Thank God for the CD boom. Not only are CDs the ideal sonic medium for jazz, but the by-product has been the re-emergence of long-out-of-print classic LPs (personal faves: LeGrand Jazz, Emergency!). There are many lost nuggets, but few are worthier than this reissue of John Jenkins With Kenny Burrell. Jenkins, an alto saxophonist who came through the music program of Chicago's Du Sable High School's legendary mentor Capt. Walter Dyett, soon rose to local master status, arrived in N.Y.C. in the mid-'50s in the wake of Charlie Parker. Quickly gaining gig props, he recorded with Clifford Jordan and Hank Mobley. The word on Jenkins was so strong that in August of '57, Blue Note put him in a session with Kenny Burrell, Sonny Clark, Paul Chambers and Dannie Richmond. The result was this stunning debut. Beginning with the apt choice of "From This Moment On," John Jenkins With Kenny Burrell positively burns. Coming on like the precocious love child of Bird and Jackie McLean, John Jenkins has it all: mercurial improvisation, blue-black emotionality and a sweet sense of swingability. The altoist and his stellar crew have a good ol' time tearing through a program of his compositions ("Motif," "Sharon" and "Chalumeau"), standards and a tune by Burrell ("Blues For Two"). Two alternate takes ("Sharon," "Chalumeau") that ably display Jenkins' depth have been added. The only mystery is what happened to this one-hit wonder?

Originally published in March 1997
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