Allan Holdsworth: Kinder
Allan Holdsworth (acoustic guitar)
Velvet Darkness (CBS Records ZK 45482)
Allan Holdsworth (acoustic guitar).
Composed by Allan Holdsworth.
Recorded: Englewood, NJ, May-June 1976
Rating: 88/100 (learn more)
"Kinder" allows us to hear the kinder and gentler Allan Holdsworth. The song is actually a cover version of the original Holdsworth composition "Fred," which appeared on the Tony Williams Lifetime recording Believe It the previous year. Performed here on acoustic guitar and overdubbed, the tune is serene in nature. Like John McLaughlin, Holdsworth is capable of playing a million notes a minute while still instilling a certain calmness. Holdsworth's chords are lovely. His soloing is a combination of semi-blues runs and lightning-quick flourishes. A touch of harmonics ends the short piece. I daresay that if the skill level was a step or two lower, we could very well categorize this music as Smooth Jazz. (Pardon me while I gag.) But that entire concept didn't even exist in 1976, so Holdsworth is given a pass. A little more melodic development would have insured a higher rating, but this more introspective side of Holdsworth is well worth your time.
Reviewer's Clarification: Some people have asked me how I judge something to be Smooth Jazz. (Retch!) I have a simple and fair test. If I believe a tune could get airplay on a smooth radio station or one of those "wave" or "quiet storm" stations, it is Smooth. This way I give the artist the benefit of the doubt. If even one chorus exhibits a hint of creativity or risk, I deem it unsuitable for such airplay and will not call the music Smooth Jazz. (Barf!) "Kinder" would not get that airplay. In any case, you should also know that Holdsworth hates this album. Details can be found in my review of another track from Velvet Darkness, "Wish."
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky