In the intricate tapestry of blues and jazz, emerges Big Joe Kennedy, a pianist whose musical prowess transcends mere notes, resonating with the soul of classic American composers while carving a distinct niche amidst the vibrant pulse of New Orleans. With his latest offering, “Amalgamation,” Kennedy orchestrates a melodic journey that encapsulates the essence of his multifaceted career, blending blues and jazz into a cohesive symphony.
Big Joe Kennedy’s musical odyssey traces back to the Midwest, where he embraced the piano at a tender age, gradually honing his craft in the heart of blues jams in Milwaukee and Chicago. His pursuit of jazz education led him to the hallowed grounds of Las Vegas, where he cultivated his skills, culminating in a graduate degree in performance. However, it was the siren call of New Orleans that beckoned him in 2009, becoming the crucible where his artistry truly flourished.
Distinguished by his performances across iconic venues like Mahogany Jazz Hall, 21st Amendment, and the scintillating Trixie Minx burlesque shows, Big Joe Kennedy’s musical narrative is intertwined with the very fabric of the city’s musical legacy. Notably, his tenure as the pianist for the esteemed Dukes of Dixieland solidified his place as an integral part of the mythic New Orleans music scene.
Beyond his captivating performances, Big Joe Kennedy’s commitment to musical education shines through. His workshops, meticulously curated to align with NAfME music standards, serve as a testament to his dual roles as a seasoned performer and an impassioned educator. Through these workshops and a comprehensive book accompanied by audio aids, he imparts the quintessential skills vital for aspiring musicians, echoing his belief in the collaborative spirit of jam sessions.
The album “Amalgamation” stands as a testament to Big Joe Kennedy’s artistic breadth, a collaborative effort woven by a stellar ensemble. Embodied by the talents of Doug Belote (drums), Mark Brooks (bass), Zach Lange (trumpet), Stephen Walker (trombone), Marty Peters (saxophone), and Jory Dexter Woodis (clarinet), the album pulsates with vibrant horn flourishes, infectious rhythms and soulful vocals across eleven resounding tracks.
The album kicks off with ‘Messin’ With The Kid’, where Kennedy’s shimmering piano and the horns set the stage, inviting listeners into a world of spirited melodies and infectious rhythms. ‘Working In A Coal Mine’ follows suit, with Doug Belote’s drums pulsating alongside Kennedy’s commanding vocals, evoking a sense of raw energy and groove.
‘Call My Job’ maintains the album’s infectious drive, infusing soulful vocals and Mark Brooks’ resonating basslines. ‘Brickyard Blues’ captivates with Kennedy’s croon, while ‘Fidgety Feet’ showcases the entire ensemble’s impeccable synergy and virtuosity.
‘Mahogany Hall Stomp’ pays homage to New Orleans’ musical heritage, with Zach Lange’s trumpet and Marty Peters’ saxophone weaving a tapestry of vibrant horn flourishes, while ‘What A Wonderful World’ exudes nostalgia and beauty, Big Joe Kennedy’s vocals resonating with soul-stirring emotion.
‘Exactly Like You’ enchants with its rhythmic thrusts and intricate arrangements, leading seamlessly into ‘They Can’t Take That Away From Me’, where Kennedy’s smooth croon and piano takes center stage. ‘The Very Thought Of You’ once again sees Big Joe Kennedy’s vocals and piano soaring and evoking a sense of longing and tenderness. Finally, ‘Dorothy’ concludes the album, a melodic ode that showcases Kennedy’s mastery of the keyboard.
Throughout ‘Amalgamation’, Big Joe Kennedy’s prowess as a singer, arranger, and instrumentalist shines, each track a testament to his multifaceted talent and dedication to his craft. The band’s cohesion is palpable, with each member contributing to the album’s rich tapestry of sound, ensuring a captivating musical experience from start to finish.
In sum, Big Joe Kennedy’s “Amalgamation” is a triumph – an embodiment of musical brilliance, passion, and artistry. With each track, Kennedy and his ensemble weave a sonic tapestry that invites listeners on an enchanting voyage through the heart and soul of blues and jazz. It’s a testament to Big Joe Kennedy’s enduring musical legacy and his unwavering commitment to his craft, a gift to all who revel in the magic of timeless music.