Some music just screams out with a joyfulness that is impossible to resist, guitarist Kenny Carr's Changing Tide is one such case in point. The former Ray Charles sideman's third release is sheer delight from start to finish with nary a cloud in sight to mar the sunny sounds within. Backed by a solid rhythm section of bassist Tom Baldwin and drummer Frank Russo, the album also features Carr's longtime friend, tenor saxophonist Donny McCaslin on several tunes. It is a truly winning combination.
The all-original music, written by Carr, is mostly in a straight-ahead vein, with several cuts featuring a delicious island blend. Carr's playing mixes George Benson, Grant Green and Grant Geissman into a tasty blend of his own. Meanwhile, fans on McCaslin will relish the opportunity to hear him play in a less experimental arena for a change. He sounds so relaxed and swings in such a joyous manner that the listener can't help but smile. The rhythm section is tight and provides stellar support and crafty solos throughout.
Straight-ahead compositions like "The Chase," "Tempo Tantrum" and "East Side Groove" are joined by the bouncy "Blues for Ray" and gospel-flavored "Downstairs" where Carr shows why Brother Ray picked him to be his guitarist for a decade. McCaslin playing in this style is surprising and simply wonderful to behold.
Another of Carr's specialties is the contemporary feel of island music, as on "Bossa Luna," "Bay to Breakers," the celebratory "Costa del Sol" or the achingly beautiful "Soaring," which are all presented in a trio setting, showcasing his enviable command of this genre. I strongly suggest picking up a copy of this recording for the upcoming summer days when the pina coladas make their appearance.