Bob Kenmotsu, tenor sax
David Hazeltine, piano
David Wong, bass
Billy Drummond, drums
A superior tenor saxophonist, Bob Kenmotsu has long been a soulful bop-oriented player. In his career, in addition to leading his own groups, he has worked with the likes of Jack McDuff and Ruth Brown and recorded with Billy Hart and Pat Martino. On I’m In Love With You, he leads an all-star quartet through nine of his originals and two standards.
While some of the songs on this CD utilize chord changes from vintage tunes, Bob gives each of them fresh and inventive new melodies. And although his tenor playing is a logical extension of his roots in straight ahead jazz, his tone and choice of notes are unlike anyone else’s.
Bob’s rhythm section includes David Hazeltine (one of New York’s finest pianists) and two musicians (bassist David Wong and drummer Billy Drummond) who, like Hazeltine, have an endless amount of credits. The reason is obvious for they not only take concise and purposeful solos that fit the songs but are always tasteful and quietly stimulating in support of the saxophonist.
The opener, “I'm In Love With You,” has a particularly likable and memorable melody. Bob Kenmotsu’s solo is thoughtful and logical with each spontaneous phrase logically leading to the next one. One could imagine this song being outfitted with lyrics and becoming a standard. “What Is This” is an intense revival of “What Is This Thing Called Love” while “I Like Someone” has a new lyrical melody over the chords of “Like Someone In Love.” “BK Blues” features a classic piano solo worthy of Wynton Kelly. The program also includes three ballads (“Jun-Ko,” “Archipelago” and “Sachan’s Lullaby”), two cookers (“RCB3” and “Brilliant Bicycle”) and warm renditions of “Monk’s Dream” and Gershwin’s “But Not For Me.” Each performance is strong, swinging and contains subtle surprises.
Throughout I’m In Love With You, Bob Kenmotsu and his quartet revitalize straight ahead jazz with consistently creative ideas, resulting in one of his finest recordings.
SCOTT YANOW, author of 11 books including Bebop, The Jazz Singers and Jazz On Film 1917-76
01. I'm in Love With You
02. What Is This
03. I Like Someone
04. Bk Blues
08. Brilliant Bicycle
09. Sachan's Lullaby
10. Monk's Dream
11. But Not for Me