Monday, September 22, 2008


For years, Kenny, I’ve maintained that in order to appreciate what an exceptional musician you are, you have to be experienced live. To me, your albums have always been hit or miss. You’ve never put out a memorable album (That’s just my opinion. I’ve sure your fans will think I’m mean and nuts for saying that). On the other hand, your live performances that I’ve attended have been unforgettable.

So, Kenny I was excited when Mack Avenue Records sent me an advanced copy of your album Sketches of MD Live at the Iridium featuring Pharoah Sanders. The first time I listened to it a liked the album immediately.

On the opener The Ring, which ran over 14 minutes, you and Sanders tossed the notes and chords back and forth like a dad playing catch with his son. Sanders blew with the strength of a power-lifter, and pianist Benito Gonzalez did everything humanly possible to the piano save for disassembling it, and resembling it string by string. Kenny, you’ve always had an affinity for demonstrative piano players.

On the next number Intro to Africa, Sanders and Gonzalez were still fired up. On Sketches of MD, Sanders had the guys playing at his level.

Kenny, I know I said I dug the album right away, but after listening to it some more over the weekend I realized I rushed to judgment. After The Ring and Intro to Africa, the album veered off course, and never founded its way back home.

The futuristic Wayne’s Thang which I’m assuming to you wrote for saxophonist Wayne Shorter, is too eerie and weird for my taste. I’m not sure what you wanted to convey. And that gizmo you attached to your horn annoyed me.

The closer, Happy People, is a tune you normally end your shows with. On this release, it’s out of place. Frankly, you should’ve left Happy People off the album. It came across as if you begging to audience participate when they just wanted to leave. I give Sketches of MD thumbs down.
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