This review was originally published on The Doughnut.
Can there be any doubt that the saxophone is the sexiest instrument in the world? I am biased, I’ll admit, having played the instrument for many years. When blow my horn I feel ten times hotter even if the results aren’t particularly edifying for anyone else. The golden goddess of music can make any ugly beast into a beauty if they will take the time to caress her and charm the magic out of her – even me.
Shannon Kennedy, however, is the personification of that sexiness and clearly the marketing guys for her new album ‘First Class’ think the same, using countless images of this young Southern Californian on the CD and promo videos. If this saxophonist is candy for the eye, then her horn licks are a full range of desserts for the ear. Jazz doesn’t get any smoother or creamier than this.
This is the first album for Groove Ltd but neither Kennedy nor her musical partner-in-crime, U-Nam are newcomers to the recording studio. With five previous albums and various solo projects under her belt Kennedy’s experience shows through with her slick, well-crafted lines knowing just when to growl,when to purr and when to claw.
U-Nam, who wrote all the songs on the album and provides the excellent funk accompaniment, is an accomplished producer, composer and guitarist with a number one hit ‘Street Life’ back in 2007 and previous album taking the #1 slot on Amazon for Smooth Jazz, Funk and Jazz Fusion.
The experience, both performing and recording, of the pair, makes all thirteen tracks a dream to listen to. There’s no experimental dissonance ala Coltrane here but pure chocolate delight. I find it hard to pick out a track to recommend as a favourite because they’re all so good. Perhaps ‘Lovedrive’ would be contender with both sax and guitar, at times, racing through some cool funky lines during their solos? Most tracks are instrumental but if you like a bit of vocals to go with your sax dessert then perhaps Maysa Leak’s sultry voice will do the job for you with ‘It’s Alright Now’? The choice really is yours with this album.
You can get a flavour of the sound from Groove Ltd from this excerpt from the album here:
If soulful, smooth Jazz is your thing then Groove Ltd should be a delight and their album ought to find a happy home in your collection. You can get your copy from iTunes, Amazon and most other online distributors.