Just Play!

Tom Kennedy is a new name to me but the bassist has quite a history. He’s appeared on more than 200 recordings and performed or recorded with big names like Michael Brecker, David Sanborn and Al Di Meola, to name just three. Looking at his credits—which include guesting with the jazz/rock band Planet X—I thought, “Oh, no—more jazz fusion!” Big surprise! Here, with longtime bandmate/drummer Dave Weckl, he accompanies a group that includes tenor-sax man George Garzone, pianist Renee Rosnes, and guitarists Lee Ritenour and Mike Stern on a terrific selection of straight-ahead jazz tunes. Things get underway in a hurry with a high-speed rendition of Sonny Rollins’ “Airegin” (Nigeria spelled backward), on which both Rosnes—a stunning player whose CV includes lengthy stints with trombonist J.J. Johnson and tenorman James Moody—and Garzone display their command of the idiom, while Kennedy shows that he’s no slouch, either. “Moanin’,” the Bobby Timmons’ classic, is a nicely done feature for Ritenour. Trumpeter Lee Morgan’s ballad “Ceora” gets an appropriately dreamy treatment with magnificent solos by Garzone and Rosnes. Duke Ellington’s “In a Sentimental Mood” is dominated by Garzone’s muscular improvisation, and Stern takes control on his tricky “One Liners.” Cedar Walton’s “Bolivia” is another of the many highlights on this CD, which is definitely worth searching out.