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Kevin Toney: Sweet Spot

During a party-themed track on keyboardist Kevin Toney’s album Sweet Spot (Shanachie), a “partygoer” proclaims, “He’s tickling the ivories.” Indeed he is. Toney is an extraordinarily proficient player with a jazzy, R&B-inflected sound that’s equal parts elegant and funky, and he possesses a talent for composing catchy melodies. All of this is amply exhibited on Sweet Spot.

The title track is bouncy and funky with an irresistible groove, while “Nu ‘M’ Jaz” combines stately piano with Middle Eastern-flavored synths and Victor Bailey’s funky bass, and Toney and saxophonist Pamela Williams complement each other on the fast-paced “Coast to Coast.” Toney showcases his superb technique on the solo piano number “Prelude to Portrait,” which leads into the bright, grooving “Portrait of You.” Since he’s such a gifted composer, Toney doesn’t really need to include a cover of a pop tune, as he does with the Nelly/Kelly Rowland hit “Dilemma,” but by presenting a bright, shimmering statement of the melody and then improvising around it, he finds an interesting way of performing this familiar song.

Originally Published