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Billy Kerr :: The Eagle Has Landed....Eh?
by Ron Sagye La Rue

Productions Bilanci Total Time 70:22

Billy Kerr;Tenor Sax,Clarinet,Flute. All Arrangements by Billy Kerr
Charles Ellison;Trumpet
George Nakaidze;Piano
Fraser Hollins;Bass
Joel Haynes;Drums

Assuming only Billy Kerr can only answer the question if the Eagle has actually landed--I can say that Kerr has recorded six original compositions on this CD. I think! More on that later... This is straight-ahead music throughout, that includes standards and some lovely ballads to give the set balance. Ten compositions total beginning with "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You" but there's nothing sentimental in Kerr's approach to this standard. Very up-tempo in its presentation quite aggressive playing by all participants. "The Eagle" is a completely different mood very minor in feeling. Dark somewhat mysterious, reminds one of a foggy harbor, no doubt do to its unusual front line instrumentation. Clarinet and muted Trumpet Kerr gets a very "cool airy" tone on this woodwind, almost sounds like a soprano sax. Ellison's muted

trumpet is quite relaxed and shadows Kerr's playing almost like he's saying "I feel the same way too"! Hollins Bass and Haynes drums fit the mood most perfectly. Right now my favorite tract.
"The Birthday Waltz" another Kerr original after some short ensemble playing the flute and bass perform in duet (excellent interplay) before the rhythm section re-enters. Kerr's flute work is very solid and he has imagination he doesn't treat it as a second
"backup" instrument. "Spring Is Where?" brings the tenor sax back but unlike on "Sentimental" its gentle this time coaxing beauty out of the horn on this ballad. With a light Bossa rhythm behind it pianist Nakaidze continues the mood he's a fine accompanist and soloist as well. "Love of My Life" is by pianist Roger Kellaway back on flute Kerr opens unaccompanied and gets some varied tones not usually heard on the metal flute. At one point a couple of notes sound like something produced on a Shakuhachi (Japanese wood flute end-blown)a woody hollow sound. A extremely serene sounding piece of music.

"Body and Soul" the old classic brought to the fore by Coleman Hawkins in 1939. Features what else Tenor sax for the first 2:47 minutes is unaccompanied! Then Ellison's trumpet enters the musical picture for a short statement then a unison tenor/trumpet, Kerr takes a groovy solo that's all I can say. The arrangement is quite original, different but but it works for me a least. Piano gets a chance to swing and does before the trumpet cooks some more. "Don't Get Clarinoid" is an "original" earlier I said I'd Kerr composed six originals Maybe! Well "Clarinoid" has to be Tadd Dameron's "Hot House" the melody is the same!! But of course it wasn't written for clarinet. So, one may arrange it for other instruments and call it your own. Whatever the case Kerr plays wonderful clarinet and the rhythm section give great support.

"Northern Samba" is just what the title says. "Theme For Ernie" was written by guitarist Fred Lacey for late altoist Ernie Henry. This ballad is kind of a musicians classic who know. Its been recorded by John Coltrane in the 1950s,McCoy Tyner in the '60s,
and Archie Shepp in the 1970's among others. Here its impressionistic and Kerr plays Tenor(solos),Clarinet and flute simultaneously (through overdubbing). I would have preferred the flute be left out on this and replaced it with alto sax,Baritone sax and had the clarinet play the flute parts. the Clarinet can play in the flute register. And Kerr has the capability to do this.

Quasi -Modal is straight ahead playing blowing at break-neck speed and closes out the Set. Over all very nice playing, arranging and pacing and song placement and of course soloing.
More info contact: KerrJazz@earthlink.net
published 11.11.2005 2005 jazz news :: home page

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