An Intimate Affair
Fantasy Warehouse Clearance Sale (series)
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sku: HUP 3037
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- Released: September 24, 1996
- Originally Released: 1996
- Label: Heads Up
- 1.Intimate Affair, An
- 2.Sunday Serenade
- 3.European Underground
- 4.Stand a Little Closer
- 6.Contemplation Swing
- 7.Heartland to Soulville
- 8.Every Time I Think of U
- 9.Constantinople Strut
- 10.Shady Side
Personnel: Kenny Blake (soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone); Darnell Alexander (vocals); Phil Sheeran (acoustic guitar); John Raymond (electric guitar); Joe McBride (piano); Erik Huber (keyboards, drum programming).
Recording information: Reelworld Productions, Seattle, WA; Triad Studios, Redmond, WA.
Illustrator: Donald Baker.
Photographer: Tommy Edwards.
When folks think of Pittsburgh, they no doubt think of Three Rivers, steel, the Steelers, and the Pirates, but Kenny Blake's musical life has been all about making the world hip to the city's great jazz scene. Bringing more than 20 years experience into a seamless hybrid of soul and tradition, the saxman got the word out on his hometown stylishly on his first three discs in the early '90s. While eclecticism is still the dominant part of his make-up, Blake's latest release, the smartly textured, jazzy, and street smart romp Intimate Affair, rings as his most focused outing to date. Helping solidify Blake's vision, while giving the saxman a chance to focus solely on his technique, is Seattle-based composer/producer Erik Huber, who wrote and produced all the original tracks, as well as playing keyboards. The mood shifts come fast and furious right from the opening title track, which begins with a late-night vibe before Phil Sheeran adds a gentle guitar explosion to the increasingly punchy rhythms. "Sunday Serenade" offers a stirring, hip-hop showcase for the exciting synergy of Blake's alto and labelmate's Joe McBride's ivory cool, while the lilting hypnosis of "European Underground" re-introduces the Blake trademark of doubling and tripling on the saxes. While wistful ballads … la "Stand a Little Closer" are never far from his center, Blake has more fun turning up the throb-knob on the electro funkfest "Heartland to Soulville," a turbocharged jam featuring John Raymond's guitar at its most slamming. He then explores the R&B side of his roots on the rap-spiced, this-is-who-am hip-hop shuffle "Steeltown," a danceable tale of the fast-paced urban lifestyle complete with blues riffs, more horn doubling, and DJ scratches. His love for covers of classic pop tunes reaches back this time to the glorious bubblegum soul days of the Jackson Five's rambunctious "ABC." ~ Jonathan Widran
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