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Kenny Burrell: Tenderly: Solo Guitar Concert

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There are solo recordings and then there are solo recordings. On Tenderly, guitarist, arranger, composer and occasional vocalist Kenny Burrell takes care of everything but the catering. This is a casually paced, evocatively arranged tour de force collecting original tunes, standards and tributes to Billie Holiday, Wes Montgomery, Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington.

The homages alone are incentive enough to add Tenderly to the shelf. “Remembering Wes,” written by Burrell, says less about Montgomery’s singular technique than it does about Burrell’s affection for the late guitar legend-it’s a poignant, soulful acoustic salute to a dear friend. The Holiday homage offers a medley of three tunes-“No More,” “Don’t Explain” and “But Beautiful”-that have a special place in Burrell’s repertoire, since they recall his studio collaborations with Lady Day. But you needn’t be aware of their close association to appreciate Burrell’s sense of loss while listening to “No More” and “But Beautiful,” in particular, or when witnessing the quiet elegance with which he contrasts melody and harmony throughout.

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