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Live in Paris at the New Morning

EMI Classics/Blue Note 0946 3 95274 9 6



1. Jean de Fleur
2. Sudel
3. Idle Moments
4. Big Bertha
5. Midnight Blue
6. Stranger in a Stranger Land
7. Chili Peppers
8. I Almost Lost My Mind
9. 15 Stones
10. Expansions
11. The Sidewinder
12. After the Rain
Nigel Kennedy - Violin
Tomasz Grzegorski - Tenor sax
Piotr Wylezol - Piano, organ
Adam Kowalewski - Bass
Pavel Dobrowolski - Drums

Nigel Kennedy is well-known as a classical violinist but he has made several jazz albums - most recently the Blue Note Sessions CD in 2006 with a starry line-up including Ron Carter, Jack DeJohnette and Joe Lovano. But this DVD records a new venture, arising from Kennedy's interest in Poland, where he now spends much of his time with his Polish wife. The MusicWeb classical site includes a review of Nigel's recordings of violin concertos by Polish composers Emil Mlynarski and Mieczyslaw Karlowicz with the Polish Chamber Orchestra, an ensemble for which Kennedy has been artistic director since 2002. Now we have this DVD of a concert at the New Morning Club in Paris in April 2007, recorded during the Blue Note Records Festival. Nigel is joined by four musicians who are all from Poland.

Many of the tunes are the same as those on the Blue Note Sessions album, including compositions by such Blue Note regulars as Duke Pearson, Kenny Burrell and Grant Green. Many of the tunes are bluesy workouts and the group enters freely into their easygoing manner. Kennedy's sound and style are closer to Jean-Luc Ponty than to Stephane Grappelli, with a hard-edged tone produced by an electronic violin. His instrument sometimes sounds slightly out of tune, especially up against the tenor sax, as in Midnight Blue.

Kennedy takes most of the solo space, although the tenorist and pianist are allowed their own outings. Nigel is a good soloist but not a great one, producing workmanlike solos which hardly ever reach the heights of inspiration. Pianist Piotr Wylezol has an admirably clean touch, as he demonstrates in Duke Pearson's composition Sudel. The bassist lays down a solid line and drummer Pavel Dobrowolski is a subtle but technically astute player who fits in perfectly with everything that happens. Kennedy contributes two compositions of his own: the somewhat mournful Stranger in a Stranger Land (with a meditative piano solo from Piotr Wylezol) and the folk-tinged 15 Stones, where Nigel's solo is very Pontyesque.

The sound quality is fine, and the visuals are acceptable, although the gloomy ambience of the new Morning Club (which reminded me of a derelict garage when I went there a few years ago) tends to render some of the action indistinct. Nigel maintains his favoured image of the young mockney maverick, with the weird haircut and jumble-sale clothes, which is getting rather tiresome. And the music, although skilfully performed, has the unexciting air of one of those routine Blue Note blowing sessions for which the label was at one time notorious.

Tony Augarde





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