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Kinda Cool by Carl Amundson & The Modern Guitar Quintet

The acoustic guitar is a rather reclusive instrument in jazz. It has been, historically speaking, relegated to time-keeping functions as a part of the rhythm section in the big bands of the swing era. It is seldom played, much less featured than the more popular brass and reed instruments. Only Django Reinhardt, Charlie Byrd and Bucky Pizzarelli come to mind as musicians who helped to place the acoustic guitar on the musical map. What we have here is not only an album of the much maligned acoustic guitar, but three guitars. If your taste and sentiments fall with the natural and beautiful sound of the guitar, then you may need to give Kinda Cool a serious listen.

Carl Amundson and the Modern Guitar Quintet have released their third album. Five players are donned on the cover in debonair suits more befitting them to a swanky cocktail lounge than to a jazz club. But the formality ends there. The quintet instantly creates an album of musical and melodic appeal with arrangements that will make you tap your fingers to the beat. It is fun listening.

Old standard such as Gershwin’s "Our Love is Here to Stay" and Cole Porter’s "All of You" are played with a refreshing and new approach. Frederick Chopin’s Prelude in E Minor is given a samba backbeat that gives this timeless piece an air of cool detachment. Crossover hits such as "Don’t Know Why" will bring more converts to jazz, or perhaps from jazz to pop. It is played as simply and as endearingly as Norah Jones’ enormously big hit with the Grammies. There is little in terms of solo space or "stretching out" as this album portends to fit in that area of accessible jazz. Don’t mistake me, it isn’t smooth jazz. It is simply an album of easy swinging, fun and relaxing songs.

The album works on several levels: it is accessible, engaging and enjoyable to the ear. The musicians are sharp and play well together. Any listener will appreciate the intricate guitar play, interaction of players and the tasteful treatment of songs. Pull up a chair, get a cool drink and put this album on for a spin.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Carl Amundson & The Modern Guitar Quintet
  • CD Title: Kinda Cool
  • Genre: Cool Jazz
  • Year Released: 2003
  • Record Label: Blue Line Music
  • Rating: Three Stars
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