April 5, 2021. West coaster George Kahn is one of those melodic, easy-swinging pianists that sometimes gets lost in the shuffle. He’s not edgy, nor experimental; he appropriates liberally from the Great American Songbook. He’s unabashedly straight-ahead, which, in this day and age, might be a revolutionary act in itself.
All about truthfulness in advertising, he named his last album Straight Ahead (2018). On Dreamcatcher, his 10th album as a leader, Kahn, once again, is not hiding the ball; he’s coming right at you, with an impressive cast of sidemen consisting of former Weather Report drummer Alex Acuña, guitarist Pat Kelly, and bassist David Hughes, all Los Angeles mainstays who are also in-demand film and TV industry session players.
Good, clean, unpretentious playing predominates, evoking the “cool” West Coast sound of the ’50s and ’60s; they leave the pyrotechnics and special effects to the Hollywood types whose films they play studio gigs for.
They lead off with a take on “I Feel Pretty” that’s played with easy but exact precision; Kahn’s arrangement of the West Side Story favorite is sharp simplicity, the musical equivalent of perfectly executed business casual. It’s a fresh-from-the-dry-cleaner pair of slacks with a razor-sharp crease ready to cut soda cans on demand that’s also perfectly comfortable at that post-work happy hour, where the can thing becomes a neat party trick.
Next, they take on one of my all-time favorite Cole Porter tunes, “Just One of Those Things,” and