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April 1997

Kenny Burrell and The Jazz Heritage All-Stars
Live at the Blue Note
Concord Records

No question, Kenny Burrell is a legend, thank God he's alive and still swinging with a vengeance. A veteran of some 40-odd years of breathing the thin air of Mt. Olympus, Burrell's excellence is forever enshrined in his Blue Note/Milestone/Verve legacy and the respect of his audience and his peers. His signature sound of deceptively complex clusters and burnished tonal clarity is echoed by many an aspiring guitarist.

Usually seen and heard in trio and quartet ensembles, Burrell steps out of character on his big band outing with the Jazz Heritage All Stars, Live at the Blue Note. From the first coupla bars of the opener "Tones For Joan's Bones," it's obvious that this is gonna be one swingin' affair. Burrell throughout is, of course, mercurial and concise. The ten piece All-Stars-Sir Roland Hanna; piano, Ray Drummond/ Marcus McLaurine; bass, Sherman Ferguson/Horace Arnold; drums, Jimmy Owens; trumpet/fluegelhorn, Jerome Richardson; tenor/flute, Steve Turre/Henny Powell; trombone-are well-steeped in the dark grounds of swing. The whole crew shines in a program that gleefully careens through "Take The 'A' Train", "The Entertainer" and "Birk's Works;" pausing for moody breaths of "I've Got A Crush On You" and "All Blues" (guest vocals from Jeannie Bryson and Vanessa Rubin, respectively). It will stand.

Originally published in April 1997
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