Convergence Zone is an apt title for this project. A "convergence zone" is a phenomenon that occurs when the Pacific winds hit the Olympic Mountains in Washington State, divide north and south, and when they meet again, stir up a whole mess of rainstorms. That's exactly what the music on this album does. It stirs up a whole mess of utterly explosive, electrifying, and exciting contemporary big band jazz sounds. Add to it a power-packed team of dynamic jazz musicians in the entire Northwest on this project and the music takes on a life of it's own.
Kelly composed and arranged the bulk of music on this ten-track album (except Bella Luce by Joe LaBarbera, a haunting ballad in tribute to the late trumpeter Cone Candoli [with compelling solo work by featured trumpeter Jay Thomas], and the standard, You And The Night And The Music) which is saturated with sardonic humor (check out the selections' titles), tight-sound ensemble work, and exhilarating soloists. The entire album swings with a zing!
Speaking of exhilarating soloists... Los Angeles-based and former Tonight Show tenor sax man Pete Christlieb is featured as a special guest on six of the album's tracks. His intense solos help to beef up such straight-ahead fiery pieces as Damp Brown Places, Cuzn Bubba Luvz Ewe, Subztatoot Shuffle, Sweet Georgia Upside Down, Yada Yada, and The Refrigerator, with its gospel groove.
Alto saxist Bill Ramsey also shines tenderly in the pensive Kathy's Waltz, Kelly's tribute to his late wife, Kathy.
Now semi-retired and residing in Bellingham, WA, Kelly still writes jazz and pop orchestra arrangements for publication and on commission, and is beginning an auxiliary career in the educational field as a clinician in film scoring and music for the media at various colleges around the USA, as well as a big band coach at the Bud Shank Centrum Jazz camp in Port Townsend, WA, for the past two years.
Here's hoping Kelly writes more thrilling charts to record for more of his own albums. This is must hear (and have) CD! *****