LINER NOTES for Ron Kalina's CD , Getting My Axes Together
For Ron Kalina's Los Angeles and Palm Springs fans--those lovers of great jazz piano and harmonica arrangements--this much anticipated collection of Ron's work is a welcome addition and expansion to what we have already enjoyed so much at his live performances. In this CD, "Getting My Axes Together", Ron emerges as a unique talent, one of the few really great jazz players with whom we associate this evocative instrument.
As Ron's playing reminds us, few sounds have the power to haunt us for all time like a great harmonica solo. I still remember vividly the hot Saturday afternoon in 1953, when, as a teenager, I heard the remarkable harmonica score for a movie called "Ruby Gentry". Wasn't the harmonica meant to be played around the fireside at camp? But here was a score, soulful, achingly sad, seductive and even primal, all coming from that small, incredibly portable instrument. It's a sound that remains with me now, some 50 years later. I am reminded of that early film initiation to the haunting quality of the harmonica when I listen to Ron's work..
Ron Kalina has had his share of studio work with his main "ax," the harmonica. Long known within the community of professional musicians as among the finest jazz players in the world today , he has played harmonica on numerous albums such as Linda Ronstadt's "Canciones de Me Padre". It's Ron's harmonica you have heard for years on TV tracks such as "Moonlighting", "Trapper John", "Paradise", and "The Incredible Hulk". The winner of the prestigious International Jazz Harmonica Competition in 1991, Ron also continues to play jazz clubs and concerts around the world.
In this CD, Ron's arranging skills are spotlighted in all but one of the tracks. Two of his own compositions, "The Kite" and "My Sugar" are also featured as he "gets his axes together" demonstrating skills in composition, arranging, piano and harmonica solos.
Ron is joined here by friends who also happen to be among the West Coast jazz greats of our time. On guitar, John Pisano, Barry Zweig and Ron Eschete; drums, Kendall Kay and Joe LaBarbera; bass, Todd Johnson and Dave Carpenter. On piano--with two notable exceptions, those of Keith Droste and Dave MacKay-- we hear Ron's other ax. He shows what a gifted pianist and arranger he is. By the way, there is a chance for a triple entendre within this CD's title, as the harmonica forms an "axis" with the keyboard.
But most of all, Ron's musicianship and soulful playing charm the harmonica into doing what it does best : it insinuates itself into our emotions and bends and shapes them.