The Turning Point, February 16, 2004:
We go to see Kenny Rankin at the Turning Point in Piermont, New York. It has been a year since we saw him at Feinstein’s at the Regency on Valentine’s Day 2003. Kathy & I have come here for the exact same reason, to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Kenny Rankin was our very first date and epitomizes love and romance in his songs and soothing musical message.
The Turning Point is a very cozy music venue that seats approximately eighty patrons. It is conveniently located in downtown Piermont on the main street, which is Piermont Avenue. We secure a table immediately stage left and directly in front. Quite coincidently we are sitting with my physician, Dr. Ed Younghans and his lovely wife, Grace. Before the show I speak to Kenny and he remembers my review at Feinstein’s and my furious note taking on my writing pad.
Kenny Rankin starts to play at 7:42 P.M. He begins with a skat vocal intro accompanied by melodic finger style guitar playing and performs an ingeniously creative version of, “Mr. Tambourine Man.” I do not initially recognize the song. I need to hear a few lines of verse before I do. This is a simply gorgeous version of the Dylan classic. “The Way You Look Tonight” follows next. This interpretation is bright and staccato, exposing a beautiful color pallet of chords. Kenny creates a melodic serenade with his masterful skat rhythmic inventions and euphonic creativity. Kenny transitions into a slow and sincere chord melody and plays, “Spanish Harlem.” This song develops the sensuous chord melody, complemented with long sustained vocal expression. The interplay between the finger style guitar and vocal note enunciation is soothing and sweet. My wife is right next to the stage and Kenny says, “ Kathy, your in the band.”
The next song is, “Round Midnight.” A skillful finger style intro and exquisite vocal delivery, showcasing fluid and creative chord melodies, caresses our senses on this amazing musical entry. Kenny employs percussive fingernails on the ones, to create a rhythmic counterpoint to the descending melodic line. Kenny switches to piano and performs a slow, delicate and sincere ballad that further demonstrates his deep creative genius. Kenny returns to his guitar a goes into a double time version of, “Haven’t We Met.” The song is played super up-tempo with a rhythmic hitch in his strumming.
Kenny plays, “On Broadway,” as a slow and stunning ballad. The song arrangement is turned around and transposed in an eclectic and heavenly musical manner. Kenny does Jimi Hendrix justice by an incredible version of, “Up From The Skies.” Kenny plays one of Hendrix’s most jazzy compositions both upbeat and very cool. It is a perfect match. “Where Do You Start” is his next selection. The entire audience is swooning. Distinctively slow note selection and phrasing emphasis, clearly illustrates his magnificent vocal control and unique style, with amazing poise and grace.
Kenny enriches us next with, “Blackbird.” He delicately and sweetly wraps his vocal delivery with the chord melody in a perfect match of creative flair. “Why Does She Keep Me Around” is next, as Kenny returns to the piano as the incredible song stylist, with a deeply moving melodic message. We continue to swell in a magical musical aura with, “Marie,” “Before The War” and “Oh Peaceful Here.”
Kenny’s superb composition, “Birembau,” is the final musical milestone, featuring splendid chord melodies and inventive skat singing. “When The Sun Comes Down” is the encore which is preformed slow and deliberate, taking us one last time to the mystical mood of Kenny Rankin’s music, total serenity!
Kenny Rankin is one of America’s musical treasures. If it’s one of his original compositions, or enchanting interpretations of others, the musical message is still the same: love, passion and magic, in every syllable and each and every note!
After the show, Karen, who sat next to us at the JVC Jazz Festival this summer, comes over to say hello: "It is great to see you again and hope to meet you at the festival this summer." Another beaming patron, Cathy, comments: "I enjoyed your review of Kenny at Feinstein's last Valentine's Day." I thank them both. As Kenny Rankin is a musician’s musician, I meet two musicians at the next table who have come to see Kenny and are totally blown away. I strike up a nice conversation with Ed Laub a jazz guitarist/vocalist and Jono, owner of Jono’s Restaurant in Edgewater, who’s also an accomplished guitarist. Everyone is on cloud nine as the show ends. Kenny Rankin graciously poses for a picture with me, and I have a very cordial conversation with him. Excellent!
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