Saturday, July 11, 2015

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase: Remembering Ray Kennedy

Next Friday, July 17 at the Sheldon Concert Hall, musical colleagues of the late pianist Ray Kennedy will present a concert paying tribute to the St. Louis native, who died in May after a long bout with multiple sclerosis.

With proceeds benefiting Kennedy's widow and two young daughters, the show will be headlined by singer-guitarist John Pizzarelli, who featured Kennedy as the pianist in his working group for more than a decade, and Pizzarelli's dad Bucky, the veteran jazz guitarist with whom Kennedy also performed and recorded. Also on hand will be Martin Pizzarelli, son of Bucky, brother of John, and longtime bassist in his trio; and Konrad Paszkudzki, the current pianist in John Pizzarelli's group.

Although Ray Kennedy came of musical age during the height of fusion, his playing for the most part eschewed the usual influences on his generation (Hancock, Corea, Tyner, et al) for that of older pianists such as Erroll Garner and Teddy Wilson. Kennedy left behind a fairly extensive discography, recording numerous times with John Pizzarelli and also leading a number of small-group dates, often with his brother, bassist Tom Kennedy. Videos featuring Kennedy are a bit harder to find online, but here are a few clips, drawn from his work with the Pizzarelli clan, that demonstrate his considerable pianistic prowess, albeit in relatively small doses.

Up above, you can see and hear Kennedy's solo on "Oscar Night," an original piece of his that John Pizzarelli incorporated into his performances as a showcase for the pianist. This version was recorded in 2000 at Jazzwoche Burghausen in Germany.

After the jump, you can check out Kennedy's solo on a version of "Just You Just Me" from an appearance by the Pizzarelli trio in 2003 on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, and there's another tasty solo on their version of the Beatles' "I've Just Seen a Face" recorded at the Montreal Jazz Festival, probably around the time Pizzarelli released his album Meets the Beatles in 1998.

Rounding out today's offerings are two more John Pizzarelli performances featuring solos from Kennedy, "After You've Gone" and "O, My Heart Beats For You," and a short clip showing Ray Kennedy and Bucky Pizzarelli in the studio recording Harold Arlen's "Let's Fall In Love," made to promote the 2008 album Bucky Pizzarelli & The Kennedy Brothers Play Harold Arlen.

If you'd like to help Ray Kennedy's family but can't attend next Friday's performance, you still can make a contribution via this page.

You can see the rest of today's videos after the jump...

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