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Paul Kendall Quartet: Rhapsody

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Rhapsody is filled with straightahead, post-Coltrane tenor playing with hints of Joe Henderson. Kendall is at his best on the up-tempo tracks, where he sails through the program of popular songs (“If I Should Lose You,” “My Romance”), jazz standards (“Impressions,” “Recordame,” Horace Silver’s “Barbara,” Cedar Walton’s “Firm Roots”) and a Matthew Fries original with technical ease and harmonic security. He plays every bit as well as many other contemporary tenorists who receive much more notice, though he is less successful on the ballad “Willow Weep for Me,” where he appears to be trying to generate emotion through bluesy, high register cries rather than interesting melodic or rhythmic material.

The CD covers three recording sessions, with bassist Dave Jackson present for them all. The drummers are Alvester Garnett or Skip Scott and the pianists are Fries or Tim Regusis. Regardless of who’s playing at any given time, the rhythm section lays down solid time and fires up the leader appropriately. Jackson and the two pianists take excellent advantage of their solo spots, with Matthew Fries being especially impressive.