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Ray Kennedy: The Ray Kennedy Trio Plays the Music of Arthur Schwartz

Ray Kennedy is probably best known for his long association with John Pizzarelli. He and the other players here-brother Tom Kennedy on bass, Miles Vandiver on drums and guest Joe Cohn on guitar-have internalized the elegant, civilized melodic world of Arthur Schwartz. On most of these 15 tunes, Ray Kennedy delineates the theme gracefully and definitively in single treble note lines while Tom Kennedy and Vandiver make everything glide. Cohn interweaves counterpoint or makes concise, fully rounded statements of his own. It is orderly music, everything in its assigned place including disciplined improvisation. It is all eminently pleasant.

Except that Arthur Schwartz’s son Jonathan makes a provocative statement in the liner notes. He says, “The music my father composed was unusual for its frequent melancholy with occasional bursts of ebullience. The darker elements are often discarded by pianists of lesser perception than Ray Kennedy, but they are here on this album.”

Jonathan Schwartz in effect issues a challenge in how to listen. When you hear the hesitancy in Kennedy’s melodic portrayal of songs like “A Rainy Day” and “Haunted Heart”-when you hear the shadows of poignancy that Kennedy discovers in Schwartz’s bright music-then you can’t stop hearing those “darker elements,” and this album gets more interesting.

Originally Published