Album Remarks & Appraisals:
"Most sixteen year old musicians are honing their chops in the high school marching and concert bands. Some of the luckier ones attend a school that has a jazz band where a beginner can get a taste of improvisation. Sixteen year old alto saxophonist Grace Kelly - a testament to joyful precocious talent and a killer support system - trades licks with the legendary Phil Woods and records a CD, GRACEfullLEE, with the iconic Lee Konitz.
Kelly's previous CD, Every Road I Walked (Pazz Productions, 2006), showcased the artist's versatility. In addition to playing a fine, swinging alto sax, she also writes songs and sings. She proved her talent in turning out a liltingly beautiful bossa nova ("Samba de Verao"), and she sang with a charming fearlessness on a wonderful take on the American Songbook classic "East of the Sun." And then there was Thelonious Monk's "'Round Midnight," an alto sax/bass duet with John Lockwood, rendered with a spare dark introspection and wee hours melancholy that made it set's highlight.
GRACEfullLEE features, in addition to Grace Kelly and Lee Konitz on altos, an all-star rhythm section of bassist Rufus Reid, guitarist Russell Malone and drummer Matt Wilson. The set has a relaxed, blowing session feel, opening with Konitz's high octane classic, "Subconscious Lee." Both altoists take extended solos. Both sound fresh and free of clichés and it is very difficult to tell who is playing which part. If Grace Kelly entertained the thought that she might be in over her head in this company (she wasn't), it doesn't show.
"Just Friends" is a duet with Kelly and guitarist Malone, who sounds especially inspired throughout. The aptly-titled "Buzzin' Around" is just Konitz and Kelly in free improvisation mode. The much-recorded "You Don't Know What Love Is" has the two altoists exploring the sad gorgeousness of the familiar melody.
GRACEfulLEE mixes up a few jazz generations and shines a bright light on a very talented up-and-coming artist on an outstanding set of sounds." -AllAboutJazz
Down Beat (p.86) - 4.5 stars out of 5 -- "The two altos synch sweetly on the undulating linear head to the opener, as well as on their eponymous compositional collaboration. But the big surprise is Kelly's ballad playing. Her duet with Malone on 'Just Friends' is stunning in its simplicity and feeling..."
JazzTimes (p.65) - "The similarity between them is not surprising, but still can be striking, as on 'You Don't Know What Love Is.'"
Personnel: Grace Kelly (alto saxophone); Lee Konitz (alto saxophone); Russell Malone (guitars); Rufus Reid (bass guitar); Matt Wilson (drums).
Audio Mixer: Joseph Marciano.
Liner Note Authors: Grace Kelly; Lee Konitz.
Recording information: Systems Two Studios, Brooklyn, NY.
Photographers: Jimmy Katz; Robert Kelly .
At the time of this recording, alto saxophonist and cool jazz icon Lee Konitz was into his eighth decade and his protege, alto saxophonist Grace Kelly, was in her mid-teens. While Konitz is indeed the mature voice here, Ms. Kelly sounds sophisticated and graceful beyond her years. Both horns dance and glide with aplomb, and intertwine like wisps of smoke, each bringing a restrained, truly cool intensity to their respective, somewhat similar approaches. The rest of the band is equally fine--drummer Matt Wilson is sparing and crisply propulsive, bassist Rufus Reid has a buoyant, Mingus-like tone, and guitarist Russell Malone has a sharper, spikier line of attack. Recommended!
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