by Anne Carlini
| Title – ‘Colors of Brazil’
Artist – Kenney Polson
For those not in the know, West Coast jazz saxophonist Kenney Polson is a world traveler who has been to over 50 countries, spreading the gospel of jazz and collaborating with many musicians.
He was fortunate to complete successful tours in France and Hawaii before 2020 pandemic travel restrictions set in, then turned his attention to completing a new album, Colors of Brazil, for release on March 5th, 2021.
Polson’s chart-topping 2019 album For Lovers Only merged smooth jazz and R&B, and, as Jeff Becker writes for Jazz Sensibilities, he is clearly “an accomplished crossover artist.”
While adept at mixing genres and eagerly absorbing aspects of other cultures, Polson has a strong foundation in American jazz; he earned a master’s degree in jazz composition and arranging from Howard University in 1997.
In his new recording, Colors of Brazil, he allows his love of Brazilian music to permeate his smooth jazz sound and gives additional flavor and texture by adding unexpected instruments in novel ways.
1. ‘Aquarela do Brazil’ (5:41)
Opening on the late ’50s, cinematic soundscape aura of ‘Aquarela do Brazil,’ that’s backed seamlessly by the summer breeze, free flowing jaunt of ‘Hipnotizado,’ an energetic rendition of Duke Ellington’s ‘Caravana’ and then a quite simply stunningly ornate ‘Flor de Lis’ is brought forth.
Next up is the gently frenetic, and yet always harmoniously sculptured ‘Mariana’ which is itself followed by the contagious Latin hipsway of ‘Leva e Traz,’ the mellow ‘Passeio de Bicicleta,’ and then the album rounds out on the beautifully atmospheric orchestrations of ‘Incompatibilidade de Genios,’ the lush notes of ‘Obsessao,’ closing on the late night, smoky underground jazz club lament, ‘Luz do Sol.’
Polson’s vision for Colors of Brazil was expansive. While wholeheartedly embracing a Brazilian theme, he also experimented by adding different sounds.
Leni Stern added guitar and African nGnoni. L.A. harpist Mariea Antoinette adorns two tracks, and Dr. Osamu Kitajima and Mitsuki Dazai play Japanese koto on five tracks.
The added instruments create interesting textures, and the intriguing result reflects Polson’s life journey and quest for new sounds.
Polson is deeply touched by the beauty of Brazil’s landscape and its inhabitants. This new project reflects that inspiration.
If you’ve ever been to Rio, you know how exquisite the beaches can be. If you haven’t had the pleasure, this album will help you imagine!
Writing in the Liner Notes, jazz journalist Raul da Gama says, “The imprint of flawless, superlative artistry is all over Polson’s 2021 album…a recording on par with the finest Brazilian recordings by titans of the saxophone.”