East of East 7th Street

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Kevin Mackenzie
LABELS: Laundry Room
WORKS: Various
PERFORMER: Kevin MacKenzie (guitar), Boris Kozlov (bass), Donny McCaslin (sax), Ben Perowsky (drums)

Guitarists in jazz are usually colourists rather than leaders. When they are leaders they’re often fronting with a freakshow of technical wizardry. So when a relatively unknown player comes along leading a trio, with a book of original tunes, expectations are not high.
But up and coming Scots guitarist Kevin MacKenzie has confounded my preconceptions by producing an understated album that is about subtle lighting and shading.
He picked three New Yorkers as collaborators and they too favour the quality-over-quantity approach. With these sidemen to frame him MacKenzie’s solo lines simply make the sound glow.
Rising NY saxist Donny McCaslin joins for just two pieces, feeling his way into the group’s intimate space, adding some blue notes to the palette before slipping away again.
It’s a perfect contribution that completes an urbane study in measured jazz improv. Garry Booth