Kenny Burrell: Mule
Kenny Burrell (guitar)
Midnight Blue (Blue Note 95335)
Major Holley, Jr. (bass), Bill English (drums), Ray Barretto (conga).
Composed by Major Holley, Jr. & Kenny Burrell.
Recorded: Englewood Cliffs, NJ, April 21, 1967
Rating: 71/100 (learn more)
"Mule" moves as slowly as its namesake. At the slowest pace possible, the group allows so much space to permeate the performance that it does not leave much of an impression. Burrell's soloing is lovely, as the cut is a great case study into his blue-note, pentatonic style, but Stanley Turrentine overshadows him here with a distinctive sax tone that sounds just as it would later on such classics as "Sugar" and "Speedball." He provides the sole excitement in a murky, anachronistic mix, as his solo and Burrell's introductory guitar lick provide the only memorable moments. The acoustic bass is so far back in the mix that it is barely audible (interesting given the fact that the player co-wrote the tune), and the hi-hat sounds even louder than Burrell's guitar. Notwithstanding the players' proficiency, without a creative edge, dynamics, or any sense of intensity this track suffers from a lack of direction and energy. It does establish the album concept of mixing dirges and upbeat tracks with the only real link between them being nearly identical blues changes. But "Mule" should not trail such a sultry bossa nova standard as "Chitlins Con Carne."
Reviewer: Marcus Singletary