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"Paul Kendall sounds like a natural jazz musician - his music has the stamp of authenticity - a little of the cool of Stan Getz, the bravado of Joe Lovano, and the bluesiness of an early period Sonny Rollins."

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RHAPSODY
Paul Kendall
(Sea Breeze Jazz - 3035)
1999
Track Listing: If I Should Lose You; Willow Weep for Me; My Shining Hour; Firm Roots; Impressions; Barbara; Recordame; Retro; My Romance
Personnel: Paul Kendall- tenor saxophone
Matthew Fries, Tim Regusis- piano
Dave Jackson- bass
Alvester Garnett, Skip Scott- drums

Jazz Times

Rhapsody is filled with straightahead, post-Coltrane tenor playing with hints of Joe Henderson. Kendall is at his best on the up-tempo tracks, where he sails through the program of popular songs ("If I Should Lose You," "My Romance"), jazz standards ("Impressions," "Recordame," Horace Silver's "Barbara," Cedar Walton's "Firm Roots") and a Matthew Fries original with technical ease and harmonic security. He plays every bit as well as many other contemporary tenorists who receive much more notice, though he is less successful on the ballad "Willow Weep for Me," where he appears to be trying to generate emotion through bluesy, high register cries rather than interesting melodic or rhythmic material.

The CD covers three recording sessions, with bassist Dave Jackson present for them all. The drummers are Alvester Garnett or Skip Scott and the pianists are Fries or Tim Regusis. Regrdless of who's playing at any given time, the rhythm section lays down solid time and fires up the leader appropriately. Jackson and the two pianists take excellent advantage of their solo spots, with Matthew Fries being especially impressive.
•  By David Franklin - JazzTimes - May 2000

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allaboutjazz.com

Saxophonist Paul Kendall leads several different quartets throughout this latest session of warm standards. As the album's title implies, it's all about melodies and rich harmony. However, Kendall makes sure throughout that there's plenty of space for everyone to stretch out. Averaging eight minutes per track, the program features Kendall's romantic tenor saxophone improvising over familiar chord changes. His crystal-clear tone and light-fingered technique set the mood so that the others are able to contribute accordingly.

Notable is pianist Matthew Fries' blues introduction and support for "Willow Weep for Me." His composition "Retro" adds a modern mainstream touch to the session that sets this tune apart from the others with its fresh piano-bass-drums interaction. For John Coltrane's "Impressions" the quartet smokes at a blazing tempo, while on Horace Silver's "Barbara" they waltz comfortably with as much power but in a different mood. Cedar Walton's up-tempo "Firm Roots" creates a place for Kendall to demonstrate his fluid articulation and confident phrasing. Consistent through his latest two recordings and several bands, Paul Kendall offers a fresh sound and familiar songs intended for the general audience.
•  By Jim Santella - allaboutjazz.com

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Cadence

Using eight very familiar songs and one original as the platform for displaying his talent, tenor player Kendall and his quartet accelerate in straight-ahead gear on Rhapsody. Kendall is not an overpowering blower. He plays with concentrated flair as a modern-day bop and post bop advocate while exhibiting just a slight rasp in his tone. The program consists of lengthy solos by Kendall as he skirts through multiple choruses of the tunes that are spelled by substantial solo work by the band. Kendall is comfortable meandering through slow ballads, but he really gets into a groove on the fast-paced tunes such as "My Shining Hour" where he burns brightly at double time. His most adventurous playing comes on "Impressions," where he and the others break out of the period mold. All the selections are lengthy, and Kendall shines with spirited blowing on all of them.

Although bassist Jackson is a constant on all selections, the piano chair is shared by Fries and Regusis, while Scott and Garnett alternate as the drummers. Fries is the pianist of record on two-thirds of the cuts. He has a firm hand that suits the robust playing style of Kendall. Lurking in the background while Kendall exercises his rights, he comes to life with boppish solos to fill in all the cracks and crevices of the tunes. Regusis is more percussive on his turns at piano, comping exuberantly in block format. Drummer Garnett is on six of the nine cuts, and he has the opportunity to play with each of the pianists. His playing is more contained than it was on (other recordings), and he concentrates more on setting the pulse from which Kendall and the two pianists can springboard. When given solo status, he sheds his support image with vigorous playing. Kendall does not attempt to break new ground on theis recording, but his playing is hearty and wholesome, and the band is always vibrant. They communicate exceedingly well.
•  By Frank Rubolino - Cadence - June 2000

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Jazz Journal International

It's been a very long time since I've been so impressed by a musician I hadn't previously heard. Paul Kendall is a 38-year old New Yorker who has worked with Charlie Persip and Kenny Drew Junior and plays flute and clarinets as well as all the saxophones. On these two CDs he concentrates on tenor only and they constitute an extraordinary debut. Kendall sounds like a natural jazz musician - his music has the stamp of authenticity - yet the CD's offer a contrast which extends to more than the instrumentation.

On Unspoken Words, with organ and generally brushes discreet in the background, slow tempos predominate and Kendall proves himself a lyrical ballad player with an exceptional command of the upper register where his tone is quite beautiful.. DB Blues, however, (which is not the Lester Young composition) shows he's able to construct emotive blues choruses in the grand tradition and recalls the Jacquet-Buckner-Jo Jones trio which used to visit London almost 30 years ago.

Rhapsody seems designed to compliment the first CD. It presents generally faster tempos, a stronger Coltrane influence and a more forceful approach, with more space allowed for contributions from the fluent rhythm section. Willow Weep for Me is the only slow piece but although Kendall again makes considerable use of the upper register he does so with more aggression than before, recalling the Texas school of Jacquet and Tate. It's this ability to draw from not just Coltrane but earlier tenormen as well which I find so appealing in Kendall's music. For their range of expression and feeling and their broad frame of reference these CDs are both strongly recommended.
•  By Graham Colombe - Jazz Journal International

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All Music Guide

An excellent bop-based tenor saxophonist based in New York, Paul Kendall has recorded several worthy CDs for small labels, starting in the late '90s. For this set, he is heard at the head of three overlapping quartets that have Matthew Fries or Tim Regusis on piano, bassist Dave Jackson and Skip Scott or Alvester Garnett on drums. In addition to Fries' "Retro," the set consists of eight jazz standards, including a few songs (Cedar Walton's "Firm Roots" and Horace Silver's "Barbara") that are not exactly overplayed. Kendall's warm and forceful tone, plus his ability to think quickly, are major assets throughout this fine straight-ahead date.
• Scott Yanow - All Music Guide

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