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  • Jonathan Widran

PAUL KENDALL, Whisper Not

Deep into Paul Kendall’s liner notes for Whisper Not, his first album in over 20 years, the veteran saxophonist mentions that he remembers playing with an older jazz musician who reminded him that music must have feeling. Fronting a powerhouse organ trio featuring B-3 master Dan Kostelnik and drummer and old pal/neighbor Rudy Petschaeur, Kendall embodies that credo with tons of swagger, hipster cool and deep-seated emotion on the mostly fast, furious and always exquisitely simmering and burning 12-tune set.


Kendall’s passionate decades long affair with the Hammond Organ reaches back to a time early in his career when he sat in with Bobby Forrester, the longtime organist and musical director for Ruth Brown, at a local jazz club in Long Island called Sonny’s place. Kendall later asked Forrester to play on several gigs and on his first album. He also paired Forrester with Petschauer, who was with Jack McDuff at the time – so in essence, the Kendall/Petschauer collaboration on the new album finds the saxophonist coming full circle, bringing back his long-gestating excitement for the limitless possibilities of sax and organ.


The set is dominated by colorful, sometimes wildly adventurous arrangements of classics by the likes of Benny Golson (the seductive, easy grooving title track), Sonny  Rollins (a hard bustling “Airegin”), Clare Fischer (the sassy, sultry Latin flavored “Pensativa”), The Gershwins (a smoky, romantic mid-tempo ballad take on “Embraceable You”), Miles Davis (the spirited, hard swinging bopper “Nardis”) and Lee Morgan (the whimsical, bustling “Ceora,” featuring one of Kostelnik’s most engaging B-3 solos).


Kendall complements these perfectly chosen showcases for the trio’s melodic, harmonic and improvisational genius with two dynamic originals, the peppy, lightning quick “Penelope’s Peril” (based on “I’ll Remember April”) and the quirky, Latinized blues-jazz closing romp “Quick Drink.” Two questions remain after listening to this power-packed trio experience – Will Kendall grace us with another great recording sooner than 20 years from now? And, is Whisper Not a one off session or (hopefully!) the start of a beautiful new organ trio experience that will manifest in many more sessions to come?

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