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Reviewers: Don Mather, Tony Augarde, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby

Get Happy
A Tribute to the life of Joe Kennedy

Foxhaven Records FX-70022 



1. I Want to Be Happy
2. Pick Yourself Up
3. Joyous Blues
4. I’m On a Cloud
5. Get Happy
6. I’m Beginning to See the Light
7. S’Wonderful
8. Smile
9. Happy Rhythm
10. Beautiful Friendship
Royce Campbell – Guitar
Joe Kennedy – Violin
Paul Langosch – Bass 

This record was not made with the intention to be a memorial album for violinist Joe Kennedy, but unfortunately he died before it could be released and everyone involved agreed to regard it as a tribute to him. The album was the idea of guitarist Royce Campbell who planned a record full of ‘happy’ tunes. He succeeded; it is a very pleasant work from three musicians who sound entirely compatible. 

For those unfamiliar with the cast, Royce has worked with many groups and orchestras and to date has 19 CDs to his credit. Joe Kennedy was both a performing musician and a dedicated musical educator. He held the post of Director of the Jazz Programme at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, VA. He also toured with both Ahmad Jamal and Dr. Billy Taylor. Paul Longosch, who has been a long time member of the Tony Bennett entourage, is the kind of bass player we would all like to work with. He plays nice clear lines, has a nice loose feel, but at all times holds the tempo in place. 

The programme is just right, three originals bring something fresh and seven of the very best standards is just right in my book! Royce is a very musical guitar player: whether ‘comping in the background’ or soloing he always sounds relaxed and on top of the work. Joe Kennedy also has a nice relaxed style, there are few really good jazz violinists about and the world is a sadder place for losing one of them. Paul is a great soloist on the bass as well as being the anchor man for the group, his playing on I’m Beginning to See the Light is outstanding, Joe plays some really swinging fiddle on this one and Royce is also to be heard playing a couple of fine choruses. 

The empathy that existed between these musicians is demonstrated throughout, as they ease their way through the entire programme and never seem to put a foot wrong. Royce’s extended solo on Beautiful Friendship is entirely appropriate to such a wonderful tune.  

None of the tracks is too long, and all the musicians have ample space to demonstrate their ‘jazz chops’, without carrying on until the tune is done to death. In summary, a very pleasant album and a suitable tribute to Joe Kennedy. 

Don Mather


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