Sunday, July 5, 2020

Album Review: Steve Cardenas- Blue Has a Range

Pat Metheny employs a vast sonic canvas on From This Place.  I praise Metheny's evocation of the “incalculable immensity of space” in my review of his new album.  Steve Cardenas, the second most artistically renowned living jazz guitarist from the Kansas City area, takes the opposite approach on Blue Has a Range.  Released on Sunnyside Records on July 10, the album is a dazzling miniature. 

Cardenas and his celebrated collaborators- pianist Jon Cowherd, bassist Ben Allison and drummer Brian Blade- prove that small-scale refinement can be just as profound as loud flamboyance.  The variations on the blues implied by the title may be subtly articulated, but they express enormous ideas.  Cowherd’s excellent playing emphasizes the influence of Thelonious Monk on Cardenas’ compositions.   All four members of the band leaven their knotty inclinations with thoughtful serenity.

Although “Reflector” is an undeniable earworm, the quiet gracefulness of tracks including “Language of Love” may struggle to capture the attention they deserve in a world dominated by flashiness.  Yet the stunning magnification of intimate beauty will be revealed to listeners willing to pay close attention to the hushed Blue Has a Range.

(Original image of the Mediterranean Sea by Plastic Sax.)

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