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Nigel Kennedy





Sweet & Slow (Fats Waller) [8:03]

Take Five (Dave Brubeck) [7:09]**

Iím Crazy Ďbout My Baby (Fats Waller) [6:56]*

Por Do Sol (Ze Gomez) [3:44]**

Viperís Drag (Fats Waller) [6:19]

New Dawn (Nigel Kennedy) [2:31]

Out in the Ocean (arr. Nigel Kennedy) [2:00]

How Can You Face Me Now (Fats Waller) [5:41]

Allegro (Johann Sebastian Bach / Nigel Kennedy) [6:08]***

Vivace (Johann Sebastian Bach / Nigel Kennedy) [5:53]**

Helenaís Honeysuckle (Yaron Stavi) [1:07]

Dusk (Nigel Kennedy) [2:52]

Nigel Kennedy (violin, celesta*)

Rolf Bussalb (acoustic and 12 string guitar)

Yaron Stavi (bass)

Krysztof Dziedzic (drums)

Barbara Dziewiecka (2nd violin**, viola***)

rec. December 2012, Abbey Road Studios, London [58:29]


This CD appears on Sony Classical and has been given the title Recital, but donít be mistaken into thinking that itís anything other than a top-notch more-or-less jazz album. Iíve been somewhat critical of Nigel Kennedyís recent albums, The Four Elephants being amongst the most ungainly. Recital sees him coming back to an acoustic set of fascinating covers and arrangements in an album dedicated to Yehudi Menuhin and Stťphane Grappelli, the latter of which gives some idea as to the flavour of the playing on offer.

Subtle, deeply swinging and gorgeously un-showy, the opener Sweet & Slow is the perfect number to kick everything off, and Iím sure it will appear as a soundtrack to a cooking programme by Nigella fairly soon Ė itís that kind of chic and aspirational style of relaxed well-being and allís well with the world. Take Five opens with a more Eastern flavour intro Ė a homage to Ravi Shankar which doesnít seem to have much to do with the actual tune, though the odd number of beats in the bar keeps up a slightly Greek Restaurant feel. Fats Waller comes off better in another swing classic Iím Crazy íbout my Baby, which is played with some witty glissandi and plenty of freshness of character. Rolf Bussalbís guitar solo is a work of art, but Nigel should really leave celesta playing to Duke Ellington. These contributions arenít bad, but considering the surrounding standard of playing the celesta does sound a little as if an errant schoolboy has crashed the session.

Pour do Sol is done very sweetly, and its restrained and ambulatory atmosphere is nicely graced by the viola support of Barbara Dziewiecka. Viperís Drag is the humorous riposte to such a lovely tune, and the musicians do its energy and sense of fun proud. Nigel Kennedyís own number New Dawn gives bassist Yaron Staviís fine tones a chance to shine with a fine improvisatory sunrise moment. This segues into the folksy Out in the Ocean, played with a natural sense of unhurried virtuosity by Nigel and his band. If Sweet & Slow is the TV incidental music, then How Can You Face Me Now? might be the opening theme, with its distinctive parallel notes and Nigelís flageolet and multi-stop Doppler-effect solo.

Iím not normally too keen on Jacques Loussier-esque ways of integrating baroque with boogie, but I love the jazz/reggae arrangement of the J.S. Bach Allegro from the solo violin Sonata No. 2 BWV 1003. The Vivace from the double concerto BWV 1043 becomes something of an Eastern European gallop in this version and is also much fun. Helenaís Honeysuckle is bassist Yaron Staviís composing credit, but forms little more than a fragrant prologue to the final Dusk by Nigel Kennedy, which is as atmospheric as New Dawn, the two pieces being pretty interchangeable in terms of title/content.

This is a cracking album, and as Nigel has sought to reproduce, brings us ďsomething which reflects the intimacy that my band and I have achieved in the live gigs weíve played all over the place.Ē The sheer skill and joy of all of the musicians in the numbers they are playing and the feel of a tight-knit group who actually listen to each other is palpable. With percussion restricted pretty much to a single snare drum played expertly by Krzysztof Dziedzic the feel of the music is light and sparky, untroubled by an excess of cymbals and busy egos. Marc Chagall-like portraits of the musicians are by Dora Holzhandler. This attractive album certainly has the vibe of a live performance, with a few warts here and there but all grist to the mill. It will make a superb gift to yourself and anyone you want to bring closer as a friend, so make sure you buy two copies.

Dominy Clements

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