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Blue Note Sessions (2006)

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Jack Dejohnette

Nigel Kennedy made quite a reputation for himself as a classical violin virtuoso, though he long expressed an interest in jazz prior to the making of this CD. A number of jazz veterans, including bassistRon Carter, drummer Jack DeJohnette, pianist Kenny Werner, and tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano (along with several others) are present and provide a stimulating group for Kennedy, who early on in the disc is comparable to Jean-Luc Ponty during the early stages of his career as a leader. But Kennedy seems a bit too conservative throughout much of the date, not taking the kind of chances one would expect of a jazz violinist during his improvisations. Another part of the problem is due to the presence of some rather pedestrian material like Butch Cornell's bland funk vehicle "Sunshine Alley" (which adds organist Lucky Peterson) and the forgettable treatment of "Expansions," featuring Raul Midón's vocal and Kennedy's bizarre use of digital delay on his instrument. Even Horace Silver's hard bop masterpiece "Song for My Father" doesn't reach his potential. Nigel Kennedy demonstrates clearly how hard it is to play jazz convincingly when it is not a major part of his regular playing schedule.