SECRETS FROM THE JAZZ GHETTO
Kirk Silsbee in the Downtown LA News says:
Kahn is a mainstream pianist whose work is a compendium of most of the great styles and motifs of late '50s to mid '60s jazz, a glorious period when seemingly anything was possible within the music. He's capable of introspective lyricism, funk-drenched backbeats, modal ruminations and flat-out swing. His current album, Secrets From the Jazz Ghetto, compiles his original compositions from previous releases and adds seven new pieces.
Edward Blanco of allaboutjazz.com says, "…Secrets From The Ghetto is the perfect vehicle to get acquainted with one of the finest pianist and composers in the jazz world today."
Read the full review here.
A review by Bill Falconer of jazzreview.com:
From the very start - Brian Bromberg's hard-driving bass opening to Cream's familiar "Sunshine of Your Love" - this band will be right there in your room. It's not just because of the recording quality - which is outstanding. Pianist George Kahn, drummer/percussionist Alex Acuña, and bassist Brian Bromberg are strong players. Strong, not loud. They play with confidence and energy.
It's jazz. Why Cream? Why not? Kahn's goal is "to create music that is classic, contemporary, hip and cool, all at once." He has been doing just that in his recordings since founding his independent label, Playing Records, in 1999. For his sixth CD, Cover Up!, he has created jazz versions of music he grew up with, including Cream, the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Wes Mongomery, and Blue Mitchell.
Kahn's classical training (he majored in Music Composition at Brandeis) and the natural flow of his playing are exhibited in his approach to the Beatles' songs. The trio explores all the nuances of "Eleanor Rigby." On "Yesterday/Yesterdays" Kahn creates a beautiful interlude between the Beatles and up-tempo Kern. This quickly leads to solo exchanges between Bromberg and Kahn which will leave you wondering which song is which. Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb" is played majestically. That composition and Kahn's gospel version of John Mayer's "Waiting on the World to Change " demonstrate his sensitivity to lyrics.
Two originals represent the constantly evolving Miles Davis. "Wes' Coast" introduces the exciting guitar playing of Pat Kelley as Wes Montgomery meets Miles in the early sixties. John Fumo IS Miles. The electric and funky "Cover Up" is a more contemporary take featuring Kelley again with Justo Almario on tenor. Mitchell's Blues" provides solo room for all, while in another original, "Mr. K.V.," with its innovative bass/piano intro, Bromberg salutes bassist Karl Vincent. "My Favorite Things" goes Afro-Cuban with Acuña on percussion and Almario in a masterful solo that is all his own. On Bill Withers' "Use Me," vocalist Courtney Lemmon projects raw emotion. What a voice! Let's hear more.
Cover Up! is West Coast jazz for today, This reviewer is from an earlier generation than George Kahn so can attest that it will speak to you regardless of what music you grew up on.
Whether it's Bill Withers' "Use Me," which he plays according to the original recording, or the jazz standard "Yesterdays," which he spins unexpectedly out of the melody of the John Lennon's "Yesterday," Kahn presents music not as a set of cerebral enigmas, but as something fun for both the listener and the player. In this sense, he touches on the visceral pleasure that is usually connected to rock more than jazz.
The playing, very much in the jazz idiom, is strong throughout. Kahn surrounds himself with other highly competent Los Angeles musicians. The most stand-out name on the set is Alex Acuña, formerly the percussionist for Weather Report. The finest playing, though, comes from bassist Brian Bromberg, who acquits himself as nicely on the bass-heavy 70s sound of "Use Me" as he does in an eloquent high-register solo on "Sunshine of Your Love."
Review found in JazzTimes January 2009.
Eighty-Eights from the January/February 2009 issue.
Here pianist George Kahn presents jazz versions of "songs [he] grew up with," in clean, full-bodied arrangements for his trio (bassist Brian Bromberg, drummer Alex Acuña) and rotating guests...
The strongest tracks are Kahn originals. On "Wes' Coast," (Pat) Kelley's celebratory guitar octaves and (John) Fumo's piercing muted horn conjure an imaginary meeting between Wes Montgomery and Miles Davis. Fumo and Almario are gutsy and believable on another Kahn tribute, "Mitchell's Blues," a fond recollection of Horace Silver's great front line with Blue Mitchell and Junior Cook.
Listen to an IN-DEPTH interview with George Kahn on KMUW-FM. Barry Gaston holds court on his weekly jazz radio show MOONGLOW WITH GASTON broadcast on December 14, 2008 from Wichita Kansas. The interview delves deep into George's past and the motivation for creating COVER UP! Along the way Gaston plays 4 cuts from the album.
Listen in as George Kahn is interviewed on KKJZ 88.1 FM in Long Beach CA. This half hour interview was hosted by DJ Brad Williams, in honor of George's new album COVER UP!, and the Jazz For The Holidays Benefit for the Homeless concert at Catalina Bar and Grill in Hollywood on December 10, 2008
Here is a great article written by Scott Yanow, all about George Kahn and the New West Coast Jazz.
Last Saturday, July 12, at the Temecula Valley International Jazz Festival, George Kahn had the honor of WINNING THE 2008 CHUCK NILES BEBOP AWARD. This award, in its fourth year, is given by the Niles family in honor of Chuck Niles, the voice of jazz in Los Angeles for over 50 years. The award is handed out each year to the artist who best embodies the Niles genre of music: big band, swing, be-bop, Latin and vocalists. The competition is open to all jazz instrumentalists and vocalists, and after a nationwide search four finalists are chosen to perform at the festival – two instrumentalists and two vocalists. Nancy and Tracy Niles, Chuck's wife and daughter, judge the finalists on the day of the festival. Chuck Niles — the voice of Jazz in Los Angeles passed away in 2004 at the age of 76. He spent over 50 years on-air and was beloved by all, earning him countless affectionate nicknames— Bob Florence called him "Bebop Charlie"; the Latin Jazz world knew him as "Carlitos Neelace"; and Horace Silver dubbed him the "Hippest Cat in Hollywood." For the winning performance George played with Karl Vincent on bass and bebop legend Dick Berk on drums. It is an incredible honor to be recognized by this award, and George looks forward to many more years of carrying on the Jazz Torch, in honor of "Bebop Charlie".
George Kahn's Cover Up! doesn't waste any time. The swing kicks in hard and fast – thanks to Brian Bromberg's vicious bass – on the infectious and recognizable Cream classic Sunshine of Your Love. After getting your attention, Kahn and his all-star band guide us through a collection of jazz, rock classics and original compositions that swings from beginning to end. As with previous Kahn releases, Cover Up! is characterized by great arrangements played by monster musicians. The music, while complex, sounds effortless, and skillfully blends straight-ahead and contemporary styles into a sound rooted in tradition while emanating from today. The band has everything it needs to turn the Pink Floyd teen anthem Comfortably Numb into a wistful jazz ballad, to bop hard a la 60s Blue Note on Mitchell's Blues, groove to the guitar-driven Wes' Coast, and get to some down-right dirty funk on the title track. George Kahn's Cover Up! is a sterling musical statement from an unselfish and swinging pianist. Don't let it go unnoticed.
—Alfredo Cruz, KRTU Jazz for San Antonio
It's guys like pianist George Kahn that make me glad I live on the West Coast, and can take in the local jazz scene. This latest release has Kahn leading a band that includes the stellar foundational trio with Alex Acuña (d & p) and Brian Bromberg (b), as well as guitarist Pat Kelly, tenorist extraordinaire Justo Almario (who would have statue in a park if he lived in NY) and trumpeter John Fumo…
Kahn seems most at home in the trio setting, which is where he seems to be most inspired. He takes Cream's "Sunshine Of Your Love" and turns it from a rocker into a snapper. Keeping with the 60's his version of "Eleanor Rigby" brings out the loneliness of the melody that would make McCartney smile. Keeping with the Fab Four, he takes an ingenious twist of "Yesterday" and segues it into the standard "Yesterdays" as if they were written for each other. Bromberg, on this tune and on "Waiting On The World" delivers some jaw dropping solo work. This is a trio that plays like they grew up together. He's always somewhere in town; make it a point to see this overlooked star.
—George Harris, jazzweekly.com
George Kahn WOWS Northern California
On August 11th, 2005 Andrew Gilbert wrote an excellent article about George. Read the article in the MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY.
…Compared to What?
"SOUL SAUCE is ONE OF THE TOP 100 JAZZ RADIO CUTS of 2004"
—WRTI-FM, Philadelphia, PA
"I've always liked George Kahn. There is a constant that runs through his music: its always hip. You name it, Kahn plays it and his music makes me feel good: I like that.
Hearing him for the first time years ago struck a chord of pleasure and enjoyment in me… It's the elusive and blissful id that Jazz lovers everywhere live in constant search of, finding music that touches something deep inside, reaching a secret place that's hard to pinpoint but that's unmistakable when you hear it and feel it…
While incorporating contemporary elements, Kahn has an uncompromising sense of musicianship and respect for tradition. George Kahn's music has an eye – or an ear – toward the future, without neglecting the foundations and traditions of Jazz. Not only is Kahn's music creative, entertaining, intelligent, sophisticated and stimulating, it's also fun! That's why I like George Kahn, and know that you will too."
—Alfredo Cruz – June, 2004
Award winning journalist and Jazz broadcaster, Cruz is programmer/host of United Airlines' Jazz Session, a veteran of NPR Jazz, WBGO, KKJZ and a contributor to the Smithsonian Institution's exhibit "Latin Jazz: The Perfect Combination/La Combinación Perfecta."
"One of the TOP 10 JAZZ ALBUMS of 2004!"
Any leader who opens his CD with a long, legato tenor sax intro, as George Kahn lets Justo Almario do on an obliquely sublime "On Green Dolphin Street," is more interested in creating a great recording, not showing off his own feathers.
Each song on …Compared to What? is chock full of delicious and delightful concepts, all coalescing into a lovely montage of sounds. The Latin-tinged "Mercedes the Lady" and march-stepped "5 to Get Ready 10 to Go" feature spacious and brisk trumpet work by John Fumo that is filled with colorful dynamics and directions. Eric Marienthal chips in for some funky reed work on the soul strutting "Too Much Sax" and moderned-up version of the title tune.
Throughout …Compared to What?, Kahn is in the background, supplying sensitive solos when required, as on the evocative "Alice in Wonderland," or pushing the rhythm section to it's funky limits, as on the title track. Alex Acuña on drums and percussion provides his usual graceful drive. Bassist Brian Bromberg is impeccable as always, and his interplay with Kahn on an epiphanic reading of Joni Mitchell's "Woodstock" will erase any images of whining hippies.
…Compared to What? has few comparisons. It's a truly original work.
Look for it and enjoy.
—George Harris - LA November 2004 - All About Jazz
Click here for a full review of …Compared to What? by Scott Yanaow of allmusicguide.com.
Click here for a review by Dan McClenaghan of allaboutjazz.com.
"One of the TOP 10 JAZZ ALBUMS of 2004"
"…while spinning the tunes of George Kahn's "…compared to what" last week, I began to realize the depth talent and creativity of this contemporary pianist. There is so much more there…I could not leave this significant release on the 'hot pick' column…had to know more about George and his music… and what I had been missing over the years…
…let's get to know the 'man' over the keys…radioioJazz proudly presents the genius of George Kahn…our 'pick of the week'…clearly one of the most significant current releases in jazz…
…like myself, you've probably heard George's music before, but did not make the connection. Kahn has over 25 years as a composer and arranger. George's music has appeared in television movies for BET, Hallmark Hall of Fame, Disney animation, as well as major ad campaigns for Lexus and others…
…George has surrounded himself with musicians who match his ability to create magic…. joining Kahn for "…Compared to What" are: Eric Marienthal and Justo Almario(saxes); John Fumo (trumpet & flugelhorn); Brian Bromberg (bass); Alex Acuña (drums and percussion); and special guests vocalist Courtney Lemmon and guitarist Ira Ingber…
…if you want straight ahead jazz, listen for "On Green Dolphin Street"…for lovers of Latin jazz, "Mercedes the Lady"… and for those who appreciate contemporary arrangements or redesigned covers there is Joni Mitchell's "Woodstock"…
…only the third time during radioioJazz existence that a work grew so heavily on my ears that I moved it backwards to the 'pick of the week'. a 'no brainer' for me. You will want to acquire your own copy from cdbaby or George's website www.georgekahn.com. He has some earlier work that is incredible as well.
—Radio Review from "Dr. Mike", RADIOIOJAZZ (10/27/2004)
Jazzreview.com says "…[Kahn] shows on every track that he can sell a song". (Read the full review!)
Allaboutjazz.com says, "Kahn's an economical player, like Horace Silver or George Duke…" ( Read the full review!)
"'Swiss Cheese' rocks out with some abandon. Freeflowing and freestyling its way through a picture postcard of the Golden Days of Jazz, when all the women were beautiful and all the men had the disconcerting tendency of looking just like Frank Sinatra. This is music that calls for pin-striped suits and floral dresses, for leading with the groin."
—Siddharth Dasgupta, GodsofMusic.com
"'Midnight Brew', California-based George Kahn's fourth CD release, stands as a good reminder that Jazz, in spite of all its abstract phases and technological advances, is dance music at its core. Spanning 73 minutes and a multitude of flavors (ranging from Bebop to Latin), "Midnight Brew" attempts to capture the essence of several Jazz movements over the past 50 years and combine them into a strong selection of songs as suited to the dance floor as it is to your home."
—Greg McLaughlin – GodsofMusic.com
"'Midnight Brew' is an eclectic mix, to say the least. He likes a groove but in strong rhythm doesn't neglect lyricism or melody…He's hitting those hard-bop backbeats and looking for the pretty notes… Just when you tire of the limited harmonic content of a soul-jazz meander through Marvin Gaye's "I Heard It Through The Grapevine", Kahn hits you with a touchingly beautiful slow dance through Comden and Green's "Some Other Time".
—Kirk Silsby, LA CityBeat, 4/23/04
Click here to read the March 2003 online interview with George Kahn from Musicdish.com.
"Quality. If I could write a one word review for Freedom Vessel without risking admonishment, that is the word I would use. This song is so good I almost feel guilty about downloading it for free.
The essence of jazz is that which can appear to have direction while structurally tending to the formless. Freedom Vessel achieves this and does so very stylishly. This is easily one of the best tracks I've heard anywhere, never mind online. Anyone who has even a slight appreciation for Jazz is strongly advised to check this out."
—Greg McLaughlin – GodsofMusic.com
"…occasionally reminiscent of Dave Brubeck. … [Kahn] deserves credit for his continuing exploration of the growing number of alternative delivery channels available to jazz artists who have not yet made a major-label connection."
—Don Heckman, L. A. Times