Velour Recordings, 2001


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Jazz is a funny creature. It has so many different flavors that it's almost a guarantee you'll like certain forms and hate others. Think of jazz as a musical ice cream parlor.

Kudu, a four-piece outfit fronted by vocalist/bassist Sylvia Gordon, kind of makes me think that this is what Manhattan Transfer would have sounded like had they gotten their noses dirty - and if they had gone for a more roots-based sound. The end result, the band's self-titled album, is not the easiest thing to listen to at times.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

In fact, don't be surprised if you find it difficult to get through the first three songs without having to push the "stop" button on the CD player. What makes Kudu a little harder to adjust to is the fact the group has no guitarist, but two keyboardists (Nick Kasper and Peter Stoltzman... drummer Deantoni Parks rounds out the group). Gordon's multi-tracked vocals occasionally go into non-resolving progressions, which only serve to further confuse the listener.

Tracks like "Temptation" and "Surprise" might have worked a little better had Gordon tried to deliver them in a scat vocal, and not merely layered harmonies which tried to be more earthy. At the one-third mark of the CD, things honestly don't look bright.

But Kudu seems to know their genre well, and the level of energy and intensity picks up quickly. Tracks like "Cannibal," "Tell Me A Bedtime Story" and "Relax" all seem to have a better groove about them, and everything musically falls into place for Kudu. If only it hadn't taken as long for everything to click.

Maybe the reason I cast a suspicious eye towards Kudu is that it isn't cookie-cutter music - but then again, would we really want it that way? Gordon and crew might not be the easiest group to appreciate straight out of the box, but their individuality should be applauded and appreciated. Besides, everything does seem to work out in the end, so it can't be all that bad.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2001 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Velour Recordings, and is used for informational purposes only.