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Kenny Burrell Jazz Heritage All-Stars

Kenny Burrell Jazz Heritage All-Stars (Jazz Bakery, Culver City, 162 seats, $ 20 top) Presented by Jazz Bakery and Concord Records. Band: Kenny Burrell, Oscar Brashear, Garnett Brown, Herman Riley, Tom Ranier, Sherman Ferguson, Roberto Miranda, Ruth Price, Barbara Morrison. Reviewed Oct. 18, 1996. The ever-reliable, ever-tasteful Kenny Burrell, now enshrined at UCLA as head of a new jazz studies program, took a septet into the Jazz Bakery Friday and tried to give the audience a bit of a history lesson. Obviously they could not cram the whole story into a mere 80 minutes, yet the set still had considerable variety and at times, vitality. Burrell, now 65, has been a reigning dean of the jazz guitar for 40 years, and he has just released what Concord Records claims is his 90th (!) album as a leader, "Live at the Blue Note" (Concord Jazz). The accomplished, though not quite airtight, septet that Burrell fielded Friday was designated a "West Coast edition" of the Heritage All-Stars crew that plays on the CD, with only drummer Sherman Ferguson appearing in both bands. Historical connections were definitely on Prof. Burrell's mind. He could link his lovely liquid solo opening of the Gershwins' "Embraceable You" with the undulating bop intricacies of Charlie Parker's "Quasi Modo" (same chord pattern). He had trumpeter Oscar Brashear deliver a tribute to Louis Armstrong in his last years ("What A Wonderful World"), and later he reverted to early Armstrong in a rabble-rousing, authentic New Orleans bash through "Struttin' With Some Barbecue" that ran off with the honors of the evening. In the vocal spots, one could hear Ruth Price delivering fresh-voiced renditions of "I've Got the World on a String" and "Skylark" that perfectly reflected her ebullient personality as the Bakery's owner/emcee, as well as the more heated ministrations of Barbara Morrison. And throughout the set, Burrell drew heavily from the stabbing proto-bop attack of jazz guitar pioneer Charlie Christian, throwing in a handful of octaves a la Wes Montgomery, backing his singers with attractively urbane chords. Alas, what this group often crucially lacked was propulsive swing, perhaps due to some distractingly bumpy embellishments on Ferguson's part. Yet the "Barbecue" romp proved that a fire can be lit under this band. Maybe they ought to play a whole set of this joyous stuff someday. Richard S. Ginell

Kenny Burrell Jazz Heritage All-Stars (Jazz Bakery, Culver City, 162 seats, $ 20 top) Presented by Jazz Bakery and Concord Records. Band: Kenny Burrell, Oscar Brashear, Garnett Brown, Herman Riley, Tom Ranier, Sherman Ferguson, Roberto Miranda, Ruth Price, Barbara Morrison. Reviewed Oct. 18, 1996. The ever-reliable, ever-tasteful Kenny Burrell, now enshrined at UCLA as head of a new jazz studies program, took a septet into the Jazz Bakery Friday and tried to give the audience a bit of a history lesson. Obviously they could not cram the whole story into a mere 80 minutes, yet the set still had considerable variety and at times, vitality. Burrell, now 65, has been a reigning dean of the jazz guitar for 40 years, and he has just released what Concord Records claims is his 90th (!) album as a leader, “Live at the Blue Note” (Concord Jazz). The accomplished, though not quite airtight, septet that Burrell fielded Friday was designated a “West Coast edition” of the Heritage All-Stars crew that plays on the CD, with only drummer Sherman Ferguson appearing in both bands. Historical connections were definitely on Prof. Burrell’s mind. He could link his lovely liquid solo opening of the Gershwins’ “Embraceable You” with the undulating bop intricacies of Charlie Parker’s “Quasi Modo” (same chord pattern). He had trumpeter Oscar Brashear deliver a tribute to Louis Armstrong in his last years (“What A Wonderful World”), and later he reverted to early Armstrong in a rabble-rousing, authentic New Orleans bash through “Struttin’ With Some Barbecue” that ran off with the honors of the evening. In the vocal spots, one could hear Ruth Price delivering fresh-voiced renditions of “I’ve Got the World on a String” and “Skylark” that perfectly reflected her ebullient personality as the Bakery’s owner/emcee, as well as the more heated ministrations of Barbara Morrison. And throughout the set, Burrell drew heavily from the stabbing proto-bop attack of jazz guitar pioneer Charlie Christian, throwing in a handful of octaves a la Wes Montgomery, backing his singers with attractively urbane chords. Alas, what this group often crucially lacked was propulsive swing, perhaps due to some distractingly bumpy embellishments on Ferguson’s part. Yet the “Barbecue” romp proved that a fire can be lit under this band. Maybe they ought to play a whole set of this joyous stuff someday. Richard S. Ginell

Kenny Burrell Jazz Heritage All-Stars

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