Midnight Blue (The Rudy Van Gelder Edition Remastered)

Midnight Blue (The Rudy Van Gelder Edition Remastered)

Guitarist Kenny Burrell’s Midnight Blue is an unassuming slice of pure pleasure. This low-key 1963 release presents a set of bluesy jazz that is nicely invigorated by Ray Barretto’s conga. Tenor saxophonist Stanley Turrentine, famed for his R&B-flavored tone, bassist Major Holley, and drummer Bill English, round out the band. Together they create a sound that has become a classic type of jazz, groovy and without pretense. The opener, “Chitlins con Carne,” grabs the listener with its cool, Latin-tinged sense of momentum. (The track has attracted the attention of many musicians; several artists have covered it, including the late guitar slinger Stevie Ray Vaughn.) It’s easy to imagine “Soul Lament,” one of the best cuts here, being performed in the wee hours at a lonely cabaret; an unaccompanied Burrell brings great feeling to this melancholy and sophisticated gem. The title cut evokes Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue period, and the slashing guitar accents lend excitement to the groove. “Saturday Night Blues” features Turrentine deploying slurs, bends, and other inflections with utter mastery.

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