CD Review: Randy Klein’s Two Duos “What’s Next” 

Jazzheads Records

Normally, if I were to write that the songs on a particular album have a repetitive quality to them, that would not be a compliment. But repetition is a central positive ingredient in the compositional style of Randy Klein, and his new album, “What’s Next,” is engaging from start to finish. From Bach-like variations, repeated phrases you might hear in serial music, all the way to pop hooks, Klein’s tunes grab you and won’t let go.

Klein is actually no stranger to pop music. He’s written songs for prominent R&B artists like Millie Jackson, Candy Staton, Sarah Dash and even rapper Lil’ Kim, and among his numerous career credits are tunes for Sesame Street. But “What’s Next” is the latest of his 10 jazz albums and the second in his “Two Duos” series. The premise is simple; chose two accomplished musicians with distinctive sounds and record half an album with each.

“What’s Next” features duets with guitarist Alex Skolnick and bassist Boris Kozlov. Skolnick is the former heavy metal guitarist (for Testament) turned jazz improviser. His vibrant guitar style is the perfect complement to Klein’s spritely playing. Kozlov is a highly melodic, six-string electric bass player whose bass sometimes enters hybrid guitar territory.

Although the majority of the tunes are up-tempo, there is also a more subtle and gorgeous side of Klein’s writing. One of the most beautiful examples is his (and Skolnick’s) treatment of “In The Twilight Hours.” The bottom line: when Klein and his two collaborators use their considerable skills on his excellent tunes the results are magical.

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