October 20, 2016 by Helen Borgers

The KJazz Fall Membership Drive is underway and among the many incentives we have to inspire you to become a new or renewing member of our jazz family are three BRAND NEW CD releases: Kenny Burrell and the LA Jazz Orchestra Unlimited, Unlimited; Gordon Goodwin’s Little Phat Band, An Elusive Man; and The Phil Norman Tentet, Then & Now.


The first is so new that it hasn’t even been released yet! But thanks to Kenny Burrell, we have a limited number of advance copies to offer during our membership drive.


After three years of performing together, Kenny Burrell and the LA Jazz Orchestra Unlimited have released their debut recording, Unlimited. It was recorded live at Catalina’s during four dates, spread over many months, from June of 2015 to February of 2016, so they gave themselves the time to capture and choose their best performances.


This Orchestra was formed to help fill what Kenny believes is a gap in the cultural and musical business of America. He points out that there are many orchestras dedicated to preserving and furthering European classical music, but very few dedicated to serving America’s classical music, “jazz.” In addition, Kenny points out that musicians trained and interested in playing jazz professionally have fewer places to take their talents than those interested in classical careers. So, this Orchestra is the first in what Kenny hopes will be many such ensembles in cities across America. Like this one, they would be a mix of seasoned professionals and graduates from jazz programs like the one Kenny heads up at UCLA.


That these graduates deserve the work is without question. For example, you’ll be knocked out by the beautiful arrangement of “Stolen Moments” by UCLA grad Hitomi Oba. A rising star in her own right, with a couple of discs as a leader already, Hitomi plays saxophone in the LA Jazz Orchestra Unlimited. As Kenny explains in one of several spoken intros to the live audience on the disc, this arrangement takes Oliver Nelson’s sax solo from his classic composition and orchestrates it for the entire sax section to play together, in the same way Med Flory used to arrange Charlie Parker’s solos for his five saxophones in the Supersax.  The results are exciting! (In addition, there’s a fabulous flute solo from Justo Almario!)


“Stolen Moments” is just the first of many wonderful classic tunes and new compositions that thrill those of us hungry for great, straight-ahead jazz.  The Orchestra’s co-leader, Charley Harrison, did a marvelous chart for Duke Pearson’s “Jeannine,” which features Kenny on both vocal and guitar. At 85, Kenny articulates fast-paced lyrics with seeming ease, and expresses the irony and loss of the character created by Oscar Brown, Jr. in the words he set to the tune. Kenny is not “a guitarist who sings,” he’s a good singer! This is proven again in his own beautiful song, “Remembering.” Other treats include new arrangements of two of Kenny’s many past original hits, “Soulero” (which features some new contagious rhythms, played by percussionist Clayton Cameron) and “Be Yourself,” which Kenny wrote in tribute to Duke Ellington, whose advice “Be yourself and be consistent,” has always inspired and guided Kenny. There is also a medley of Billy Strayhorn’s “Passion Flower” and “Take the A Train,” plus Barbara Morrison sits in for “Things Ain’t What They Used to Be.” And co-leader Bobby Rodriguez composed two tunes on the disc, one of which, “Adelante,” he wrote especially for Kenny and, translated into English, the title means, “Straight Ahead,” which this whole disc certainly is!


For a donation of only $5.00 a month (that’s $60 total), you can become a Sustaining Member of KJazz AND receive this pre-release CD from Kenny Burrell and the LA Jazz Orchestra Unlimited.


On-air personality, Helen Borgers, can be heard on KJazz 88.1 FM from 2:00 pm - 6:00 pm, Monday through Friday. As a jazz broadcaster, Helen has been invited to give pre-concert lectures at various performing arts centers, served on panels in jazz conventions all over the world, and lectured about the history of jazz in middle schools, high schools, and colleges. She has also written articles for international jazz publications and regularly emcees concerts, festivals, and club dates throughout southern California.

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