KENNY DREW Jr.: Passionata

Catalog# 70561

UPC# 602267056129

Kenny Drew Jr.: Piano;

Bob Belden (string orchestra conductor and arranger)

Lewis Nash: Drums; Peter Washington: Bass


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“This is the kind of record that critics usually hate – lush piano by a virtuoso who likes ornate chords, broad melody, and strings! IGNORE THOSE CRITICS; this is a lovely, frequently moving session.” – Gary Giddins, Modern Maturity

In this moving tribute to his father entitled “Passionata”, the dazzling pianist Kenny Drew Jr. plays songs his father wrote, songs his father loved and, in the title track, performs a piece that his father began to compose and which he, Kenny Drew Jr., completed after his father’s death.

Kenny Drew, Jr…. looms large as the new prophet of jazz piano… he invests every line and chord cluster with palpable passion and the kind of creative invention that ought to spook the young lions du jour.” – Philip Booth, Tampa Weekly Planet/Orlando Weekly/Sarasota Herald-Tribune

A member of the Mingus Big Band and a regular player alongside Stanley Turrentine, Drew displays the same brilliance with “Passionata”, his 11th release as a leader. The album is pure Jazz classicism. Homage is its guiding principle, and reverie abounds. The pianist, a heroic modern rhapsodist, leads a deeply melodic, rhythmically sublime trio (supplemented by a string orchestra, conducted and arranged by Bob Belden) through the perfumed night air and mid-tempo grooves composed or favored by his late father Kenny Drew, the Bebop pianist who helped make that style today’s common Jazz language.

Beautiful music, beautifully recorded, and played. Like his father before him, Kenny Drew Jr. is a marvelous pianist, and this earnest tribute would have made Drew Sr. Proud and happy. If you appreciate lovely music that is warm, introspective and, yes, passionate, this one’s for you.” – Jack Bowers,

Along with bassist Peter Washington and drummer Lewis Nash, and featuring Bob Belden’s string arrangements on 4 songs, Kenny Drew, Jr.’s “Passionata” is a fitting tribute to a Jazz great, as well as an example of the depth and passion of Jazz music.

Song Selection:

1. Passionata Kenny Drew/Kenny Drew, Jr. 3:21
2. Hush-a-Bye Jerry Seelen/Sammy Finn 5:44
3. Dark Beauty* Kenny Drew 6:25
4. Dedication Kenny Drew 6:53
5. When You Wish Upon a Star Ned Washingston/Leigh Harline 6:19
6. Serenity* Kenny Drew 7:39
7. Summertime Dubose Heyward/George Gershwin 4:12
8. It Might as Well Be Spring Oscar Hammerstein/Richard Rodgers 5:06
9. Evening in the Park* Kenny Drew 6:22
10. Passionata* Kenny Drew/Kenny Drew, Jr. 5:55

* Strings arranged by: Bob Belden

Kenny Drew Jr.: Piano
Lewis Nash: Drums
Peter Washington: Bass

Laura Seaton
Mary Rowell
Uri Vodovoz
Lenny Rivlin
Paul Peabody
Hanne-Berit Hahnemann
Nancy McAlhaney
Ron Lawrence
Richard Locker
Thomas Ulrich
Christine Gommere

Producers: Makoto Kimato and Bob Karcy
Total Time: 57:46

What the Critics Say:

“The saying ‘The son offers the father his life as a vessel for carrying forth his father’s dream’ is particularly relevant for Kenny Drew, Jr.’s newest production “Passionata”, on Bob Karcy’s Arkadia Jazz label. The pianist pays homage to his father, selecting songs his father either wrote or loved. The appeal of “Passionata” lies within the dignity and composure of the leader. Drew reveals a remarkable sensitivity and his supple mood is consistent from beginning to end. The sentiment alone is moving enough. – Fred Jung, bird Jazz Magazine

Top 3.” – Gavin Jazz Radio Charts

“On his new record, “Passionata”, Kenny Drew, Jr. (plays) with unbridled virtuosity.” – Joe Vanderford, Independent Weekly, NC

“PICK OF THE WEEK – MAINSTREAM: When a musician possesses a big, baroque piano sound, sometimes it seems like there’s more than one piano filling the space…waves of sound emanate from Drew, playing a song that was begun by his father and completed by the son – accompanied by the snappy top-notch rhythm section of Peter Washington on bass and Lewis Nash on drums. The spirit of the elder Drew infuses the entire package…Kenny Drew, Jr. couldn’t have found a better inspiration.” – Rick Marx,

“I’m no pianist but Junior seems to have even more technique than his Dad, and his familiarity with the romantic classics is evident. “Passionata” features… string arrangements by Bob Belden that are a big plus. The lush romantic settings… highlight Drew’s advanced harmonic sense and make these four tracks particularly interesting. I like a lot about “Passionata”, like the way he takes Sr.’s idea for “When You Wish Upon a Star” and takes it further.” – Duck Baker, JazzTimes

About Kenny Drew Jr.

Kenny Drew Jr. (June 14, 1958–August 3, 2014) was an American jazz pianist. His music is known for its hard-swinging bluesy sound and large, two-handed chords contrasting with fast runs. The son of jazz pianist Kenny Drew, he did not credit his father as an influence.

His initial study was in classical music with his aunt and grandmother. In his teens he became interested in jazz and pop, but initially worked in funk bands. Later he went into jazz piano and in 1990 he won The Great American Jazz Piano Competition in Jacksonville, Florida. Drew continued to perform jazz, but he also performed some chamber music. His style has some similarities to his father’s, but is different enough to generally avoid comparison; he was considered the more eclectic of the two men.

Drew attended Iona College in New Rochelle, New York, for a period during 1977 to 1978. There, he became pianist for the Iona College Singers, an entertainment troop promoting the college’s name and goodwill among local high schools, retirement homes and the like in the Northeast region of the USA.

Drew cited Thelonious Monk as an influence and like Monk often recorded (and performed) solo. Kenny Drew Jr. recorded over 20 albums as a leader. Some of the musicians who recorded with him are Larry Coryell, George Mraz, Wallace Roney, Stefon Harris, Steve Wilson, Lynn Seaton, Lewis Nash, Peter Washington, Ravi Coltrane, Eddie Gomez, Joshua Redman, Christian McBride, Terrance Blanchard, Bob Berg, Buster Williams and Marvin “Smitty” Smith.

Drew died at home in St. Petersburg, Florida, on August 3, 2014 at the age of 56.

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