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Michael Kelly and the Hot Blue Q’s: No, What?

Boasting progressive arrangements which pay tribute to traditional influences, Michael Kelley & the Hot Blue Q’s No, What? (Square 74004; 63:00) is a feast for the ears of moderns and straight-ahead devoteesalike. Saxophonist and bandleader Kelley plays in a warm, live style which emphasizes the shape of each breath, note and phrase. Combined with a tight rhythm section of Brendan Byrnes (drums) and Steve Skop (bass), Kelley uses that sensitive-styled attack to spin swinging tunes like “Seven Out” and “No, What” which take on the timing and intensity of dance floor funk. The Q’s influences are peppered throughout, with “5×5” materializing as an off-kilter be-bop homage, and a jumpin’ jam read of “Impressions” bursting out sparse & sweaty, with Skop working hard on the bass runs. Most impressive of all is Kelley’s emotive read of Gershwin’s “Summertime,” which is positively Coltrane-esque in its embracing tone. This one is a real find.

Originally Published