Wine and Jazz Magazine
By Jonathan Widran
KEVIN TONEY 3 – NEW AMERICAN SUITE
Continuing the spiritually inspired compositional renaissance that began with his solo project A Grateful Heart (aka Heart Of Gratitude), the veteran Jazz keyboardist composer marks the debut of his new trio (bassist Mike Bradford and drummer Chris Coleman) on this ambitious, improvisation-rich exploration of many styles and traditions of American music. The expansive title track sets the tone, beginning with classical piano flourishes and evolving into swinging jazz and Afro-Cuban influences. “A Soulful Union” is an artful blend of gospel, rock, and jazz; the cleverly titled “Cyberia” is a super-rhythmic bebop romp; and, “In God We Trust” has a South American vibe. Toney’s trio also heads to New Orleans and tips his hat to Scott Joplin on a dynamic funky re-imaging of “The Entertainer”
KevinToney.com (KTONE ENTERPRISES) 2012
Los Angeles Jazz Scene
By Scott Yanow
Kevin Toney began playing the piano when he was five. He gained some fame in the 1970s when he was the leader of The Blackbyrds, the Jazz/R&B group founded by Donald Byrd. After leaving the group in the early 1980s, he became known for playing contemporary jazz music in addition to working as a sideman with such major names as Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Isaac Hayes and Whitney Houston. However he was always more than just an R&B pianist, as he shows on New American Suite. On what is arguably his finest recording thus far, Toney is showcased in a trio with bassist Michael Bradford and drummer Chris Coleman. He contributed eight of the nine compositions including the intriguing “New American Suite” which goes from classical to straight ahead jazz to Afro-Cuban jazz and back. Toney’s soulful playing is at times a little reminiscent of Ramsey Lewis although he displays his own musical personality. While his other originals all have their strong moments, the highpoint is his reworking of Scott Joplin’s “The Entertainer.” Toney modernizes the piece and explores each of its themes before ending the performance playing some
credible stride piano. This excellent outing is available from www.kevintoney.com.
Dusty Groove Review (July 2012)
Kevin Toney 3 — New American Suite … CD
The first album from The Kevin Toney 3 – headed by the piano player and one-time leader of the legendary Blackbyrds – and it’s a nicely melodic set of soulful trio jazz! There’s a warm, affectionate vibe throughout, and it’s played by skillful veterans with genuine passion. Toney composed, produced and arranged in collaboration with bassist Michael Bradford, and the trio is completed by the great drummer Chris Coleman. They’re working with a range moods that roll from smoothly measured to charged and anthemic. Solid stuff! Includes “New American Suite”, “Love Is All We Need”, the slowbuilding standout “A Soulful Union”, “Spacious Skies”, “Cyberia”, “The Entertainer”, “E Pluribus Unum”, “In God We Trust” and “Family Times – Getting Happy”.
Abyss Jazz Review
Kevin Toney 3 | New American Suite
August 14, 2012
… Founding member of the Jazz/R&B band The Blackbyrds, Kevin Toney (Piano) along with Michael Bradford (Bass), and Chris Coleman (Drums) blend traditional acoustic Jazz with the compositional expanse of classical music to create this musical mosaic, New American Suite, which pays homage to America the beautiful.
… Ahhhh, what a feeling!
New American Suite is a nine-song work that Toney conceptualized as a salute to the spirit of the United States. Highlights of New American Suite include eight original tunes and Scott Joplin’s classic ‘The Entertainer.’
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