Grace Kelly: Just Friends


Just Friends


Grace Kelly (alto sax)


GRACEfulLEE (Pazz 15-8)

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Grace Kelly (alto sax), Russell Malone (guitar).

Composed by John Klenner and Sam Lewis


Recorded: Brooklyn, no date given (CD released in 2008)


Rating: 86/100 (learn more)

No, not that Grace Kelly. Even so, there might be a movie angle in this alto prodigy, the child of Korean parents, born in Wellesley, Massachusetts in 1992, and already gaining recognition for her jazz playing in her mid-teens. On this CD, she shares the front line with Lee Konitz (who doesn't appear on this track), and shows off the maturity of her conception. Konitz has also been one of Kelly's teachers, and his influence can be seen in her oblique manner of solo construction. She never takes the obvious angle, and appears to be quite fastidious in her avoidance of the banal and predictable. By the same token, she is not given to showy demonstrations. In short, this is unostentatious playing, driven by a quest to find fresh melodic lines for old chord changes. Malone is the sole accompanist here, and is sensitive to the mood of the performance. But I was disappointed that the duo didn't push this song a little bit more. At under four minutes in duration, this version of "Just Friends" sounds like it could be the intro to a much longer, deeper performance.

Reviewer: Ted Gioia

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