Review - Randy Klein - 'Sunday Morning'

Note: This review originally appeared in EJazzNews

Randy Klein, Sunday Morning - (Jazzheads 2010)
                Set apart from the basic rhythm of the workaday world, our Sunday mornings are often a time of the week unlike any other.  Rested and reconnected, we often find ourselves worshipful, thoughtful, peaceful, and playful on a Sunday – or at least refilling those parts of ourselves drained by the business of the week before.  Sunday morning is a state of mind.  On his latest release, Sunday Morning, pianist and composer Randy Klein has cooked up a batch of music that will likely complement  whatever you might find yourself doing on the old school “day of rest.”  At our house, we’re happily serving up this music with pancakes, bacon, and hot coffee.
                To borrow a term from Hollywood, “high concept” aptly describes Klein’s approach, as he structures each piece as a conversational duet between his piano and, from track to track, Oleg Kireyev on tenor and Chris Washburne on trombone.  None of the tunes are particularly long or heavy, and most wrap up their contemplation of some music idea about that Sunday-state-of-mind by the five minute mark.  All of the musicians know each other well – Kireyev and Washburne, in addition to playing often with Klein, release through the Jazzheads label, which Klein started.  He serves as sole producer of Sunday Morning as well.
                The opening track, “Hiding Out,” clocks in as the longest, at just over six minutes, a lighthearted mid-tempo back-and-forth between Klein and Washburne.  On the tango-flavored “Truly Yours,” Kireyev is as capable a partner as Washburne, and with these first two tracks the listener understands that Klein’s compositions will fill the musical space adeptly as well as provide moments for each player to come forward and make a statement.  A canny accompanist, Klein always manages to take a subtle step into the background when his horn players step up.
Washburne displays his chops in the higher registers in the tense and shifting “I Caught You In A Lie,” and Klein’s solo on this song takes several turbulent turns.  The title track builds from a spiky right hand arpeggio by Klein though to some very sweet and melodic lines from Kireyev.   “Doo Boo Bop” is as cheerful and brisk as its title suggests, and features some of Washburne's best playing.  The ballad “Now I Wonder” gives Kireyev an opportunity to explore the full range of tones on his tenor, and the recording is so fine, at times, you will feel the saxophonist is in the room with you.
Just as the musicians play off each other within songs, the order of tunes often alternates between bright tonalities and more somber, thoughtful atmospheres. “House On The Hill” again has Washburne working the upper range of the trombone on a song that offers beautiful voicing and harmonies. “I’ve Got An Itch” is build around a vamp that lets Klein and Kireyev scratch their musical sweet spots as much as they care to, and “Lottery Day” is a tune built very much around the same basic structure.  “Petit Pois” is a romantic, rubato effort that any two people in love could listen to in a quiet moment of togetherness, and “Her Beautiful Soul” returns to some of the music landscape of “House On The Hill,” but with some of Klein’s best work on the piano.  Sunday Morning closes with an outstanding composition, “Fly Free,” a waltz whose melody moves through dissonance and minor chords to a lush and joyful resolution.  Again, Klein and Kireyev make the lilting descent into a final phrase that truly makes the listener feel free.
                Jazz on a Sunday is certainly a custom for some radio stations and in some homes.  A more free-form, improvisational music fits the humor of the day. Randy Klein’s Sunday Morning is certainly music to listen to during the period its title suggests, although you wouldn’t want to do this music a disservice by just having it in the background.  Before you put these songs into your playlist and shuffle them in with all the rest, be sure to sit down during a quiet hour and listen all the way through.  Your weekend will thank you for it.
Randy Klein – piano
Oleg Kireyev – saxophone
Chris Washburne - trombone

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