After the passing of the great master, Carr has enjoyed a solo career and has released several albums of his own including “Friday at Five” (2005), “Turn the Page” (2006) and now 2015’s “Idle Talk.”
“Idle Talk” is anything but idle and is a return to playing with his Santa Cruz pals from back in the day: Donny McCaslin (sax), Kenny Wollesen (drums) along with Hans Glawishnig (bass). The interaction between Carr and his school chums is exciting and electrifying.
The album kicks off with the title track with Kenny Wollesen’s drums launching the album. Carr and Glawishnig jump in quick and, when two-time Grammy nominee Donny McCaslin enters with sax in hand, things begin in earnest.
With the band in full swing—and I do mean swing—Carr contributes his first solo and the listener is given a sure heads-up as to what is ahead. It is a great track with all of the artists in amazing interplay, especially between Carr and McCaslin. It is a sterling composition and the performance just cooks.
“Jacose” is a cool melody. Carr’s delivery is lyrical and delightful. Wollesen and Glawishnig are their own kind of cool with the brushes and the subdued bass. McCaslin works so well off of Carr’s guitar. A great ensemble piece.
“Reunions” must be describing this very coming-together of old pals. There is a liveliness and inside-joke quality in the understanding between them all. They get each other and it shows over and over again.
Glawishnig and Wollesen are wonderful together. Although Glawishnig was not one of the early “Santa Cruz Four,” he is right at home with the boys. Glawishnig gets a sweet bass solo on “Reunions” and Wollensen plays under it brilliantly.
Carr and McCaslin are in telepathic communication, as well. There is no “first me, then you” dichotomy but, rather, a maneuvering together, then apart, then together again. I love this piece.
“Waltz (Take Two)” is bluesy and bold. McCaslin’s sax is bright against the more subtle tones of Carr’s guitar. The song moves from blues to nocturne then to waltz effortlessly, then back again. Carr knocks down a clean and subtle solo with the steady support of Glawishnig and Wollesen.
The bass solo mirrors McCaslin’s melodic lines and is exquisite. Fun for us, we get to hear the theme again in the final track of the album.
“Song for Fen” is a nice guitar riff that gets picked up by the sax for a memorable melody. Carr’s arpeggios—followed by strum passages—are a splendid springboard for McCaslin’s coolest moments.
The dual voices of sax and guitar in unison are lovely. The quick-picking of Carr with the rhythmic support of Glawishnig and Wollesen are right on it.
“Stay” is a sweet and sad lament. The chord changes are melancholy and plaintive. The legato of McCaslin is like a clinging agony in contrast to Carr’s frantic search for relief or escape. A stunning composition, to be sure, it might be my favorite track on the album.
“Anthrozoology” is quick and cool. Wollesen gets a swinging work-out as McCaslin goes toe-to-toe and punch-for-punch with him. It is a fun romp with thrilling trades and wide-open communication between all of the artists.
“Anthrozoology” is riotously exciting and good-humored. Every one of the musicians just light it up.
“Blues Coffee” is another great hand-in-hand walk between sax and guitar. The blues are executed with extraordinary delicacy between Carr and McCaslin. There is a nod and a wink to B.B. King and Glawishnig turns in a steady, sweaty solo. A great piece of blues.
“Waltz (Take One) is the final track and a return to the theme introduced in the fourth track (much to our delight). The sax phrasing is different between the two takes but both tracks speak profoundly to those who will listen.
“Take One” is almost a minute-and-a-half shorter but hits the listener a bit differently. The theme is the same but the features are different. It is brilliant.
Kenny Carr has crafted a magnificent album with “Idle Talk.” His musician-friends of many years complete the sense of familiarity and fellowship created by Carr’s compositions.
Carr brings blues into fully and finely integrated Jazz pieces without detriment to either genre. Carr’s guitar mastery allows him to take on the most daring pieces with full confidence and camaraderie among this fine array of musicians. Together, they achieve stunning results to what Kenny Carr individually intended.
Purchase "Idle Talk" at: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/kennycarr6
Visit Kenny Carr's website at:http://www.kennycarrguitar.com/
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