Kenny Cox - Introducing Kenny Cox and the Contemporary Jazz Quintet

Blue Note 0946 3 85189-2    ****
Cox (p), Charles Moore (t), Leon Henderson (ts), Ron Brooks (b) and Danny Spencer (d).  Rec. 1968-69

Kenny Cox - Introducing Kenny Cox and the Contemporary Jazz Quintet
On a sabbatical when they were originally released, these tracks are completely new to this writer, despite my close association with the label over several decades – and they are simply superb. Indeed, Kenny Cox and the Contemporary Jazz Quintet must qualify as one of the most innovative and interesting groups that never received the recognition they deserved at the time. Today, nearly 40 years later, they still sound incredibly fresh and just as contemporary. And not that many miles away from what artistes like Wallace Roney and others are into. In a Blindfold Test, odds are that you’d think you’d discovered a bootleg experimental rehearsal tape by Miles’ mid-60s Quintet. There is definitely a similarity of conception, but on closer attention, each of Cox’s men has their own distinctive personality and the sum of these five individualities gives the group a totally unique identity, with original material – sometimes minimal, but always ideal for improvisation – to match. Sure, Charles Moore has listened to and learned from Miles. 

But he has a constant strength and a linear concept not always there in Miles’ playing.  And, dare it be said, he’s more soulful? Henderson, the former Blue Note tenor star’s brother, has some of Joe in his style and sound, as well as more than a lot of Wayne Shorter. Cox himself has heard Hancock as well as Barry Harris and is always conscious of the merits of space. This limited edition, Connoisseur Series CD contains both of the group’s only Blue Note albums with the second, aptly entitled ‘Multidirection’, even better than ‘Introducing’. Why they were recorded in Detroit with inferior sound rather than settling for Rudy Van Gelder’s magic (and much better piano!) in New Jersey, we may never know. A really marvellous record by a brilliant band that must be one of the best kept secrets in the history of jazz.
Tony Hall

This review is taken from Jazzwise Issue #111, to read the most comprehensive review section of jazz and beyond and receive a  Free CD, subscribe here…