Tom Keenlyside – flute; Brad Turner – trumpet; Miles Black – piano; Miles Foxx Hill – bass; Bernie Arai – drums; Melody Diachun – vocals (tracks 3, 4, 10), Tim Porter – guitar (tracks 1, 10.)
1. Skweet 2. Amor, O Mystério 3. All Of You 4. Speak Low 5. Ghost Of A Chance 6. Garden Bay 7. But Not For Me 8. Lazy Afternoon 9. Cherokee 10. Pelo Amor De Música Triste 11. Dave
Of the various themes we have emphasised at Flute Journal, the need for broader artist recognition, at least in jazz, continues to ring true. As Down Beat polls continue to be dominated by artists from New York and Chicago, with one or two from California, we have recently received top quality recordings from Canadian and Puerto Rican artists. Now, again, comes an inspiring set from a Canadian jazz flutist, although from the other side of that country.
Tom Keenlyside is from Vancouver, British Columbia and, although not appearing in any Downbeat polls, and therefore not a household name, he is one of Canada’s great jazz flute and saxophone legends, with a career extending over 50 years. Keenlyside has lent his talents as saxophonist, flutist, producer and arranger to such jazz greats as Dizzy Gillespie and Mel Torme as well as to rock legends such as Aerosmith and Van Halen. This new release, which features new compositions from Tom and his longtime musical partner pianist Miles Black, as well as a selection of standards, is intended to pay tribute to Keenlyside‘s roots, specifically the Espresso Coffee House, a major venue in Tom‘s musical upbringing in Vancouver.
The Espresso represented one of the places where artists would hang out in the early years as they grew up learning the jazz art form, as Tom refers to it, ” . . . the ability to hang with your ‘elders’ and develop more knowledge of the craft, play with musicians better than you, and learn the ‘art of the hang,'” all parts of jazz education before the days of university and online jazz courses. This release celebrates that tradition, allowing Tom the opportunity to work with some of Canada’s finest artists – all major soloists in their own right.
It is notable that Keenlyside, an excellent saxophonist, chooses to play his flute throughout, placing it alongside Brad Turner‘s strong trumpet and flugelhorn; check out the unison flute/trumpet lines on Speak Low! Keenlyside owes a debt to flutists such as Nicolle Mitchell and Jamie Baum who have placed their flutes alongside brass instruments in the front line of jazz ensembles. Here however, Keenlyside, supported by the strongest of rhythm sections, takes this to new levels of strength and expressiveness
Although called A Night At The Espresso, this is a studio recording The selections range from original compositions – tracks 1, 2, 6 and 11 by the writing team of Keenlyside and Black, Pelo Amor De Música Triste by Keenlyside, reflecting his love of Brazilian music. The well-known standards that make up the rest of the program are given a new reading. The arrangements are deft, the soloing top class, the programming sensitive, the sound quality superb.
This recording, along with one or two others, sets new standards for the flute in jazz, while also acting as a fine introduction to the Canadian jazz scene. We cannot recommend it too highly.
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