It seems that just about every month a hot, young, space-age jazz guitarist arrives on the scene. They come equipped with arsenals of electronic gear and dazzling techniques. They are fast, loud, flashy and often brilliant. And yet, it always seems that something is missing.
Just what that something is was demonstrated by Kenny Burrell last night at Blues Alley.
Burrell (who will be appearing through Sunday) is a guitarist of human dimensions. There is little bombast to his work -- he doesn't wallow in a sea of synthesized noise and he doesn't try to jam a hundred notes into every solo.
His power is of a much softer caliber. He takes single notes, bends them slightly and lets them hang in the air. His chord work is a constantly shifting palette of tonal color and percussive accents. And he can turn a blues phrase with such ease that it leaves the ears crying for more.
Backed by the sympathetic bass of Rufus Reid and the drums of Sherman Ferguson, Burrell featured classics like Dizzy Gillespie's "Night in Tunisia" and paid tribute to Charlie Parker with a rendition of "Old Folks." To each song, he brought a delicate twist of his own -- the touch of a consummate jazz artist.