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Kim Nalley at SF Jazz

Last Friday my dear friend Kim Nalley played SF Jazz. With Greg Skaff on guitar (playing a Byrdland, one of my fave guitars!), Tammy Hall on piano, Michael Risman on bass, Kent Bryson on drums, and guest star Bryan Dyer on vocals, Kim delivered two inspired and inspiring sets of music. Kim has managed to do what few in the modern jazz world have accomplished; keep a steadily working band together. Especially for vocalists, in the "post boom" jazz world, the luxury of playing for years with the same artists, at the same artistic level, who can tap into a collective intuitive empathy and trust, is rare. I believe Tammy Hall, who has been with Kim for many years, is the best vocal accompanist in all of American music. With deep roots in gospel, jazz, and the American songbook, she is that rarity virtuoso that is always fresh, challenging, and supportive. One senses that Ms. Nalley feels free to experiment and push boundaries, knowing her back is always covered. Kent Bryson is the perfect drummer for a vocalist, like Steve Gadd he builds excitement without ever being flashy. Greg Skaff never overplays (perhaps even underplays, as do I) and is always perfect. The duets with Bryan Dyer were thrilling, and his solo (suggested by Kim) We Shall Overcome, was a poignant reminder that we still haven't. And her version of Dylan's I Shall Be Released (written for George Jackson, and which I used to play in the early 70's) brought tears to our eyes. Singer, songwriter, band leader, wife, mother, scholar. Bravo Kim Nalley!