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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Just Play!

Capri 74122-2



1. Airegin

2. Moanin'

3. The Night Has a Thousand Eyes

4. Ceora

5. One Liners

6. In a Sentimental Mood

7. Bolivia

8. In Your Own Sweet Way

9. What Is This Thing Called Love?


Tom Kennedy - Acoustic bass

Dave Weckl - Drums

Renée Rosnes - Piano

George Garzone, Steve Wirts - Tenor saxes

Mike Stern, Lee Ritenour - Guitars

Tim Hagans - Trumpet

John Allred - Trombone


The ethos of this album is summed up by a Charlie Parker quotation on the sleeve: “Master your instrument, master the music, then forget all that bullshit and JUST PLAY”. Bassist Tom Kennedy got some high-class musicians into the studio and let them “just play” on jazz standards, without much being pre-arranged. Even Mike Stern’s One Liners comes into the category of a jazz standard, because it is based on the chords of Softly as in a Morning’s Sunrise.

The leader of the session was Tom Kennedy, a bassist who has become most famous as an exponent of the bass guitar. Yet he still loves the double bass, and states “I started out as an upright player. I didn’t start playing electric until I was 18 or 19 years old”. His expertise on the double bass is apparent throughout this CD, both in his sturdy accompaniments and his inventive solos. His bass solos have a logic which bass solos don’t always attain.

Right from the start of the album, you feel you are in the presence of genuinely professional musicians: people who know their instruments and know their music and deliver it faultlessly. The opening number – Sonny Rollins’ composition Airegin – is taken very fast but all the soloists negotiate it with skill and fluency.

The basic group consists of Kennedy with pianist Renée Rosnes, drummer Dave Weckl, and tenorist George Garzone (who is a revelation). To this group are added various soloists who all display virtuosity. Outstanding selections include The Night Has a Thousand Eyes, with high-flying trumpet from Tim Hagans and supple trombone from John Allred; Mike Stern’s scintillating guitar on his own One Liners; Duke Ellington’s In a Sentimental Mood, which is refreshed by an unusual stop-start rhythm, with Garzone’s serpentine tenor sax backed by Dave Weckl’s busy drums; Cedar Walton’s Bolivia, which is decorated with dexterous bass and glittering piano, as well as a muscular drum solo; and Renée Rosnes’ spacious piano featured on a trio version of Dave Brubeck’s In Your Own Sweet Way.

But every track has something special to offer on this superb album, which renews one’s faith in a simple “blowing session” that allows the musicians to play with freedom and gusto. 74 minutes of well-recorded and brilliantly-played music.

Tony Augarde

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