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Bebop Spoken There

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12,557 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 12 years ago. 276 of them this year alone and, so far, 127 this month (Feb. 28).

Wednesday March 3

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MILES WATSON

Sunday, March 10, 2019

CD Review: Kevin MacKenzie - ‘The Ballad of Future Joe’


  Kevin MacKenzie (guitar); Mario Caribe (bass); Alyn Cosker (drums).
(Review by Roly Veitch)

Scotland’s Kevin McKenzie, a contemporary styled jazz guitarist of international class, is one of a select group of guitarists who, with authority and lyricism, have absorbed the legacy of players such as Abercrombie, Metheny and Scofield to develop an attractive, warm and very fluent personal style. It’s a style based on a mix of interesting melodic lines, subtle contemporary chord voicings and all executed with a fine sense of form, rhythm and dynamics.

In this trio recording he joins with two more of Scotland’s finest – drummer Alyn Cosker and bassist Mario Caribe, a Brazilian who came to study music in Scotland and stayed. The result is a powerful unit capable of gentle lyricism through to high energy group interaction but always with an overriding discretion brought about by impeccable musicianship and good taste.

In this newly released CD all of this is there to listen to in abundance.


McKenzie’s guitar tone is lovely - full bodied, warm, with definition and clarity.  It’s his signature sound and he sticks with it. Caribe’s acoustic bass sound is gorgeous. Cosker does all you would ask of a top class modern drummer. To top it off the album is beautifully recorded and runs for just over one hour.

Of the ten tracks, nine are MacKenzie’s own compositions, the exception being a contemporary version of Reinhardt’s Nuages played in 3/4 time and whilst very different to the much copied Django version, it is totally respectful and a delight.

Of his own compositions, I would mention the title track, The Ballad of Future Joe, a 3/4 time gentle ballad with an airy, floating quality which gently explores the shifting harmonies and is reminiscent of Metheny. The opener The Mouse Commute is a mid-tempo minor key excursion in 5/4 time which builds to an exciting climax propelled by great drumming from Cosker.
Absorbing stuff! 

Track 3, Snood Dude, a bright 4/4 swinger allows Caribe to stretch out with a great solo. I mention these tracks purely at random as all of the compositions are interesting, strong and varied with sympathetic and, at times, exhilarating support from Cosker and Caribe as things build.  Absolutely top drawer playing by the three musicians throughout.
This is a most enjoyable recording and I would unreservedly recommend it not just to lovers of contemporary jazz guitar but also to the wider jazz audience.  I love it.

Roly Veitch

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