Ken Navarro — Bonfire

Aug. 2, 2016

You know, there’s no point in simply referring to Ken Navarro as a renowned guitarist any longer. This guy, who constantly proves his musical prowess on so many different instruments, again dazzles us with his multi-instrumentalism. Here on his upcoming release Bonfire (and this is much more than a bonfire, by the way), he plays alone and on every traditional instrument imaginable – from acoustic and electric guitars to drums to electric and acoustic bass, keys, and just on and on…including saxes and trumpets. Who needs a band when you are the band…and who better to know what you want than you?

Bonfire, due out on Amazon, ITunes, and other outlets in September but available now on Navarro’s website (http://www.kennavarro.com), is a potpourri of Navarro compositions. A really diverse project, complete with what we have generally accepted as smooth jazz (Ken Navarro style) and more than a few nods to other styles and genres like fusion and World. For example, check out the moods and movements in “A Dozen Roses.” It’s living art with so many moving pieces and parts… and we thought his The Test of Time was a showcase (it clearly was, but he’s outdone himself here). There’s also “Bar Lines” with its cool and intricate time signature and fusion feel. A classical approach using a woodwind quintet (flute, oboe, clarinet, French horn, and bassoon) for “Glen Echo” lends more diversity and insight into Navarro the innovator. These three alone let you know that Navarro just keeps evolving.

Other tracks are more familiar looks at Navarro and are among my favorites here (although, with his constant expansion and creativity, “familiar” may turn out to be a very fluid term). They include the lead track “My Best Friend,” 4 Yawkey Way,” the soothing “One Summer Day,” “Soft Stuff,” “Machu Picchu,” and the interesting combined Latin jazz flair and funk of “Refuge.”

You will never ever be able to challenge Navarro’s musicianship, his meticulous approach to music – demanding perfection—and his uncanny skill to truly excel at every instrument he picks up. One amazing artist in that regard.

The title track, a cool fusion piece, wraps it all up as his finale, but essentially just sets up his next project, I’m sure. There’s no wonder he spends so much time in his home studio. There’s so much going on inside that musical mind that there’s probably hardly a moment that passes when he’s not thinking of how to captivate his audience with some new and innovative way of expressing his music. Truly an A+ effort for such a bold, intricate, and sophisticated way of thinking and performing. – Ronald Jackson