CD Review – Keith Price “Breakfast of Champions”

On Dec. 19, 2008, a group of musicians under the leadership of Keith Price assembled at Epiphany Lutheran Church in Winnipeg to record an album. This is the result: straight-ahead neo-bop jazz reminiscent of that great collaboration of Miles Davis and John Coltrane but pre-Kind of Blue. Price has his Lenny Breau guitar licks down in this session. He is joined by Neil Watson on alto sax, reminding one of the Coltrane’s Prestige recordings of the mid-fifties, William Bonness on piano and keyboards, Julian Bradford bass, Curtis Nowosad drums and, on one track, the immaculate songstress Amber Epp.

Each contributor here is alone a fixture on the Winnipeg music scene. It’s fabulous to hear Julian Bradford play arco applying the bow to the strings of the bass, something which he does far too infrequently. This group moves tautly through a range of moods from the passionate to the sublime, reminding the listener, in the more romantic moments, of Errol Garner. Particularly note-worthy is the sensual tone of Epp’s voice on “Warmth,” a tune whose lyrics she wrote to Price’s melody, accompanied by Bonness’s Garneresque piano in the background.

The only thing diminishing the excellence of this CD is that Price’s “Zoom Zoom” has been split into three parts with one beginning the CD, one in the middle and one at the end together with fade-ins and fade-outs, a gimmick which should have been discarded ages ago when the rock groups of the ‘60s began to use it. Other than that minor annoyance, this is an inspired album that belongs in every jazz lover’s collection.

*.5 out of **