The latest Nigel Kennedy Quintet album, Shhh!, recorded in November 2009, confirms the maverick status and omnivorous musical taste of one of Britain’s finest and most unpredictable musicians.
Following his 2008 excursion into the self-penned tracks of the NKQ’s A Very Nice Album, Nigel Kennedy‘s latest collection reveals an even more eclectic character. It was recorded at one of rock’s fabled residential country studios, Rockfield in South Wales with the Polish musicians which make up the NKQ: Tomasz Grzegorski (tenor sax, soprano sax & bass clarinet); Piotr Wylezol (piano & Hammond); Adam “Szabas” Kowalewski (contrabass & electric bass) and Krzysztof Dziedzic (drums).
Collaborating on one of the album’s outstanding and most surprising tracks is Boy George, an old mate and near neighbor of Kennedy’s in North West London who shares his passion for the songs of the late Nick Drake. George’s delicate vocal on River Man points to another new direction for Kennedy’s music – a gentle chamber pop which brings out the understated lyrical tone in his violin playing. “There were a few singers whose voice I thought might work well on River Man but I just knew that George’s voice would sound amazing, and his beautiful, very touching interpretation and style adds a completely different dimension to the song.”
To this day, Kennedy still declines to play by any one set of rules. Over the past decade or so, as well as recording Bach, Vivaldi, Mozart, Beethoven, Mlynarski and Karlowicz, he has laid his personal instrumental stamp on the songs of Jimi Hendrix, the Doors and Kate Bush; performed the violin intro to Baba O’Riley on stage with the Who; invited Jeff Beck onto the Prom stage with the NKQ; explored traditional klezmer music with the Polish band, Kroke, and dug deep into the roots of modern jazz on the Blue Note Sessions, an album he recorded in NYC in 2006 with legends Ron Carter and Jack DeJohnette.