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Shawn-Neeg

Artist: Calvin Keys
Calvin Keys - Shawn-Neeg CD
Label: Snow Dog Projects
Regular Price: $15.95
On Sale For: $7.98 
Year: 2012
Format: CD

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Calvin Keys is a world-class jazz guitarist - and more. The 70-year-old Bay Area resident has worked extensively with Ahmad Jamal, spent a couple of years in the employ of Ray Charles, and held his own in the fast company of Joe Henderson, Pharoah Sanders, Sonny Stitt, Joe Henderson, Red Holloway, and many others. Pat Metheny saluted him with an original composition called 'Calvin's Keys,' found on his album Day Trip. For decades, Keys has evidenced considerable facility and conviction as a blues player, too. Back in the soul jazz 1960s, he was in organ trios led by such blues-savvy notables as Jimmy Smith, Jimmy McGriff, Charles Earland, and Brother Jack McDuff. Always open-minded, the native Nebraskan has even worked with Luther Vandross and MC Hammer. To date, Keys has made eleven albums under his own name. One of the most radiant is his debut, Shawn-Neeq, originally issued in 1973. The album came in the wake of the soul jazz era when Miles Davis's startling shift into a Sly Stone-informed electric-jazz swept over musicians and hip listeners like a tsunami. Thanks to the Black Jazz label, Keys did his part in delivering good Miles-influenced jazz-funk to record buyers, music that has aged surprisingly well. Throughout Shawn-Neeq, Keys's guitar shows him to be a close stylistic ally of two guitarists with a similar soul jazz pedigree: Grant Green and George Benson. His pentatonic, bluesy riffs and occasional 'outside' sounds grace songs based on riffs or chords. The man plays with control and confidence. The title track, named for his beautiful newborn niece, abounds in a lyricism not unlike that of the Santana Band on their Coltrane-oriented Welcome album. With a melody suggestive of Cannonball Adderley's 'Work Song,' 'Gee-Gee' demands that listeners bob their heads and tap their feet; no great harm if Owen Marshall's flute solo isn't as prominent in the mix as it should be. Two jams, 'B. E.' and 'B. K.,' resonate with a type of funk that both Jimmy McGriff and George Clinton would endorse. Keys' guitar in the latter gets rhapsodic as the band evokes Miles' Bitches Brew. 'Criss Cross,' not the T. Monk composition but rather one from pianist Art Hilary, attracts for the joy heard in the swinging, straight-ahead jazz lines of the young guitarist.
ARTISTS
Calvin Keys (guitar); Bob Braye (drums); Lawrence Evans (bass); Larry Nash (piano); Owen Marshall (flue, hose-a-phone, misc)
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