Kenny Lee Lewis: New Vintage

January 30, 2014

This CD shows a different persona of Steve Miller Band guitarist Kenny Lee Lewis, who plays tastefully on a mix of original and cover tunes that lands on the smoother side of the jazz tracks. Revealing his fondness for the styles of Wes Montgomery and Grant Green, Lewis’ sweet tone and fluid playing, and the way he intersperses his solos with octave and chordal forays, are also squarely in the George Benson camp, which is just what the funky hip-hop grooves of his compositions “Conquistador” and “Chicken Strut,” or the classic “Valdez in the Country” call for. These and other upbeat cuts are offset by some cool and introspective guitar work on “Diane,” Stevie Wonder’s “Creepin’ (In my Dreams),” and also the fingerstyle intro to “If I Only Had a Brain,” which shows yet another aspect of Lewis’ style. The old-school keyboard textures (Hammond B-3, Minimoog, Fender Rhodes)—not to mention an occasional flute flourish—hark back to the sounds of late-’70s L.A. jazz, which, besides underscoring Lewis’ 35-year tenure as a studio player in the SoCal area, makes New Vintage a very appropriate title for this album. New Folk.

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