Another Phil Kelly Masterpiece
Phil Kelly's new Origin CD, My Museum, is a nice follow-up to last year's Grammy nominated Convergence Zone. It has the same crisp arrangements, crystalline acoustics, and hard driving brass. Phil brings swinging arragements to standards such as Jeanine, Body & Soul, and Duke Ellington's Daydream. Kelly's own compositions, Bluelonious, Pleading Dim Cap, Juan Beatov Stomp, Zip Code 2005, and the haunting title track show that as a composer that Kelly is top notch.
Whereas on his previous CD Kelly used mostly Seattle-based sidemen, on this new issue he flew to Los Angeles for a whirlwind recording session on May 15th and 16th of this year in Alhambra at the MartinSound Studios. His choice of LA sidemen show both Kelly's good taste and his influence. Key players include trumpeters Wayne Bargeron, Pete DiSienna, and Bob Summers, who handles many of the trumpet solos. Not to keep his Northwest connection shut out, Seattle resident Jay Thomas solos on Bluelonius and Zip Code 2005.
Leading the four-trombone section is LA heavyweight, Andy Martin. It's the sax/woodwind contingent, however, in which the star power really shines. This dream section includes Lanny Morgan, Gary Foster, and Pete Christlieb, all whom have been band leaders themselves. Kelly's rhythm section includes Bill Cunliffe on piano, Grant Geissman on guitar, Tom Warrington on bass, and Steve Houghton on drums. They do their best not to be overwhelmed by the hard-charging brass and woodwinds.
A special treat on the title track is a full string section, who back up Seattle singing sensation Greta Matassa on vocals. Personal favorites on My Museum include Bluelonius, Kelly's tribute to Monk. It features Lanny Morgan, Bill Cunliffe, and Brian Scanlon's tenor solo. Body & Soul goes back and forth from samba to ballad and back to samba with bari sax soloist Bill Ramsay featured. Juan Beatov Stomp shows a modern touch in a Latin/funk groove that is a nice contrast to the other brass heavy arrangements. Here both Cunliffe and Geissman get their chance to solo while the brasss mostly lays back.
Kelly both arranged and produced My Museum. At a retail price of $15.98, it's a hour's time spent in the Kelly Museum of Big Band Swing. Where else can you take the museum home with you, ready for a return visit when your out of town guests show up and need proof of your good taste?