The Kennedy Brothers and drummer Todd Strait have fashioned a perfect blend of standards for their first trio compact disc, I'll Remember April. They display great command of their instruments and sheer pleasure in performing very familiar selections with exceptional creativity.
Opening with the title track, pianist Ray Kennedy lunges forth at break-neck speed -deftly maintaining a delicate touch throughout. Brother Tom, on contrabass, gladly accepts the challenge - speeding sagaciously before slowing for a soulful solo that hints at his awesome range of talent. Strait, the perfect foil, supplies some titillating trap work. On Tenderly, after a grandiose beginning, Ray gears down to a much slower, romantic groove. Gradually accelerating, he is joined by Todd and Tom, with soft but solid support - flavoring every nuance as Ray fondles the keys. Tom's brief, melodic solo and Todd's tender treatment accentuate this enticing offering.
On Secret Love, Tom sings the head while Ray's lithe fingers comp lightly beneath. Then Ray prances out front, with Tom and Todd walking, then dancing to his rhythm. Tom adds more of his gentle, fluid touch, followed by the fine-tuned Todd, with a thoughtful stanza. They close with an almost polite passion.
The hauntingly beautiful Laura is rendered thus by Ray's eggshell articulation. Softly saluted by Strait's brushes and a muted bass, the recording's shortest piece is no less profound. The airy intro to Pennies From Heaven is highlighted by Ray's feathery approach and sidekick Todd's fern-like brushes. As the pace quickens, Tom gallantly shoulders the load - breaking for an engaging interval - before continuing his support under a series of tantalizing fours traded by piano and drums.
The magical Kennedy lyricism again surfaces on Zawinul's Midnight Mood, and, as always, Strait's cymbal and brushwork - both timbre and timing - are beyond reproach. Soft Winds emanate from Ray, flowing easily over Todd's inviting brushes and Tom's resounding upright; quickly casting their fate to a pleasant whirlwind - then a buoyant breeze. Tom punctuates, swelling to an appropriate tonal testimony, and Todd adds his well-structured statement before the ensemble signs off.
The tone softens on You Don't Know What Love Is, with Kennedy's piano, the near whisper of his brother's bass and the ever gentle intercourse of Strait's brushes and cymbals (as if the two elements really do know).
The finale, All Of You, returns us to a lively tempo - the trio sprinting through the melody. Todd's sticks tastefully attack his cymbals as Ray fires a two-fisted fusillade. Tom's eloquence emerges for one last contrabass confection. More trading by Ray and Todd is followed by a return to the head.
Reviews"This recording is an excellent example of piano trio music. Ray Kennedy, of the John Pizzerelli Trio, shows his unbelievable sense of musicality on this record. He plays the piano beautifully on the ballad Laura and is unbelievable on I'll remember April, the title track. Tom Kennedy, of the Dave Weckl Band, has an incredible sense of time and feel on the bass. His melodic sense will blow you away! His solos are unbelievably technically challanging and have a wonderful melodic and harmonic sense.....he sounds like a horn player! Todd Strait's drumming is absolutely flawless. His great sense of time and feel truly add to this remarkable record!" - Amazon