Urban Classical Music from Leslie Burrs
LESLIE BURRS' latest, "Impressions of Another You" is a series of nine duets with pianist Kenny Barron. Meanwhile, Mr. Burrs' "Blue Harlem, Black Knight" was originally one of our earliest releases, now augmented with additional new material, remixed, re-mastered and available on CD for the first time! Both projects produced by bassist Gerald Veasley.
Personnel: Leslie Burrs, flute, bamboo flutes and alto flute; Kenny Barron, piano.
"My One and Only Love" / "Cherokee Prelude" / "Cherokee" / "Aryssa's Carol" / "My Funny Valentine" / "Nobody Knows da Trouble I See" / "In a Sentimental Mood" / "Impressions" / "Whispered Thoughts"
What the critics say:
"Impeccably accompanied by the great Kenny Barron, this concert recording is a fine showcase for one of our most skilled flute specialists; yet another of Philly's finest. A versatile artist whose brain is split between jazz, classical, and original composition, Burrs is blessed with a sumptuous tonal quality. Just when all is tenderness and light on the opening 'My One and Only Love' Burrs goes avian on us with some penetrating bird whoops and cries on his free prelude to 'Cherokee.' 'Aryssa's Carol' is a yearning original with Burrs bending and shaping his tone adroitly. One taste of his closing cadenza on 'My Funny Valentine' is clear evidence of his virtuosity. On 'Nobody Knows,' where one may expect Burrs to luxuriate, he takes flight.
- Open Sky Jazz / the Independent Ear
"...Recorded in concert, Burrs shows himself to be a player not only of elegance and impeccable technique but also one with energy and vigor...Barron is a consummate duet partner and he's always in there prodding Burrs...'Impressions' is particularly impressive where he comes up with a flute version of Coltrane's 'sheets of sound' approach. Barron also gets his best solo of the set on this one. 'Cherokee' is delivered with a similar authority and chops.
...'Cherokee' is preceded by 'Cherokee Prelude,' an improvisation where Burrs is playing a wood flute and Barron the inside of the piano. It's an effective piece with Burrs whooping and swooping as Barron builds a percussive attack...this sounds as if it was one of the highlights of the concert...'Impressions,' perhaps this disc's most exciting track...as the two take off on a flight of fancy that sounds quite thrilling...
...One can hear a great flutist in Burrs..."
"Burrs turns his flute into a source of tonal percussion on the happenin' 'Cherokee Prelude.' 'Nobody Knows Da Trouble I Seen' becomes a solo extravaganza as he takes flight via breathy pyrotechnics...
...slaloming up and down scales with gate-crashing zeal. Yet he's also a feathery presence on 'In a Sentimental Mood,' where he evokes smoke curling from a slow fire."
- Philadelphia Inquirer
"Recorded live in a concert setting...working through a collection of standards with one Burrs composition and one Burrs/Barron piece. Let's say right off that this is an album that any flute player should check out. Burrs is an outrageously good flautist with an unerring, crisp articulation at any speed and pitch, and this setting gives him lots and lots of room to stretch out and solo, especially during ten-minute-plus versions of 'My One and Only Love' (the opener, with a gorgeous Barron intro) and 'My Funny Valentine,' where he characteristically states the tune's vocal melody before launching into a score of dazzling variations, runs and alternate melodies.
...Barron plays with a complete deference throughout; he accompanies Burrs as one would a vocalist...This is Burrs' show all the way. That said, a restrained Barron is still wonderful, and he shines throughout; his stride-inflected solo on the surging 'Cherokee' is perfect, and one can never tire of his comping with its trademark terse left-handed licks...
...'Aryssa's Carol' is the most collaborative moment, a pensive meditation with rich, minor chords where Burrs trades in some of his fireworks for feeling (he even plays a little blue, uncharacteristically bending and flatting notes). And then there's the polar opposite found in John Coltrane's modal composition 'Impressions,' where Burrs really loses himself in astonishing approximations of Trane's sonic clusters; here the flautist's pyrotechnics have a perfect vehicle and the displays of virtuosity seem heartfelt.
Certainly there is no flautist working today with greater technique than Leslie Burrs."
- All About Jazz.com
"This album shows the very essence of an artist. It is the seed from which a multifaceted tree grows, a hybrid of American popular song and jazz improvisation, stemming from the African American experience and classical music roots. Leslie Burrs aptly defines his art as an Urban Classical Music statement. Burrs' voice as a flutist is a unique blend that soars to dizzying heights with agile speed then deftly turns into a romantic rush that soothes and seduces. This CD has no sung lyrics but it is full of words and imagery...words and images spoken in the language of music by masters of the art. Soliloquies and dialogs that expand and expound on the meaning of the lyrics we know so well. Listen and your heart will understand."
- Vincent Leonard
"Far more riveting are his flights of virtuosity on his latest CD...There are two tunes in particular where the full complement of Burrs' control of the flute is manifest: 'My One And Only Love' and 'In A Sentimental Mood.' Both are tour de forces with Burrs invoking vestiges of several famous flutists.
There is the incomparable articulation and speed of a Hubert Laws; the raw energy of Rahsaan Roland Kirk, and the humming along sound; the soulful vibrato of Yusef Lateef; and, perhaps more than anything the creative sonorities of Eric Dolphy. Despite elements of each in his playing, Burrs has managed to distill his own unique style.
As in the above, much of the style is in evidence on these classic ballads, which allow Burrs to apply his special attack, an attack with precise intervals, lovely glissandos, and smears of seamless octave runs. Something he defines as 'Urban Classical Music.'
However defined, Burrs' music is no problem for pianist Kenny Barron whose sprint of arpeggios even exceeds the flutist's propulsion. There are many Monkish moments in Barron's sorties, and few pianists can change pulse as effortlessly without losing their harmonic moorings.
Whether being carried aloft by his sizzling romp on Coltrane's 'Impressions,' or lolling in the sweet density of 'Whispered Thoughts,' his own composition, Burrs has a delightful way of blending his classical training with aspects of avant-garde jazz and Eastern tonalities. And the deep dark tones of Africa at his command exuded from his bass bamboo flute.
That beguiling resonance can be heard on 'Cherokee Prelude' on the CD, and each note seems to be keyed to an earthy color, and you know these sounds would be absolutely incredible weaving around and against a string quartet.
With or without strings, Burrs, a graduate of the Philadelphia College of the Performing Arts, is a phenomenal performer and composer. Check him out and order your copy from www.dreamboxmedia.com. And if you are not impressed, then perhaps I'm talking to another you."
- The Black World Today
This long-overdue re-release of a phenomenal project, with keyboardists Bobby Jones and Mark Knox, bassist Gerald Veasley, drummer Tommy Campbell, and percussionists "Doc" Gibbs and Daryl Burgee:
"Ade Ola Femi" / "Blue Harlem, Black Knight" / "Carvings"/ "The Children of Soweto" / "A Woman's Song (I)" / "Mill Mountain" / "She Stands in Quiet Darkness" / "A Woman's Song (II)" / "Farz I Know" / "Body Ache" / "Love Song for Mother and Child" / "Urban Memories, Distant Voices/A Poem"
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