Mofo Kenny Horst circa 1981......


"Local Musicians" have always had an uphill battle to gain recognition for their efforts and achievements. That's nothing new. Pick up any book dealing with the history of jazz and somewhere within its pages you will find references to "the territory bands." These were the groups which week in and week out provided live music in those parts of the country which are not geographically adjacent to New York or, back then, Chicago, where records and stars were made. However, the records of the few who did, verify the stories by the musicians who played in these bands. A lot of great music was produced out of the earshot of the business moguls. For every musician who left the territory and found a niche in the "big time", there were many more equally talented individuals who, for one reason of another, chose to stay close to home and never had the opportunity to share their artistry with other via the phonograph record.

Since the early days of jazz, the music itself has undergone many changes, and out in "the territory" some things have changed and some have not. There are still many excellent musicians out there who choose to stay close to home. With today's profusion of recording facilities, they no longer have to journey to New York or Chicago or Los Angeles in order to share their artistry with others via the phonograph record.

Witness Kenny Horst.

The Minneapolis and St. Paul territory has long been recognized as a fertile breeding ground for high calibre musicians, and the current crop has to be one of the best ever. To make this record, Kenny Horst assembled the cream of the crop and that includes himself.

One of the area's most popular drummers, Kenny Horst is truly a self-made musician. he has been playing jazz gigs in this territory for many years. He has played with Jimmy McGriff, Azar Lawrence and the Edwin Hawkins Singers. He has also done some road work with the Harlem Review, worked a brief tour with Al Hirt, and spent three years teaming up locally with keyboardist Bobby Lyle.

Kenny learned to compose music the same way he learned to play drums -- by simply doing it. He wrote all the tunes on the album and it seems he has taught himself well.

Listening to the high level of cohesion and sensitivity involved in these performances it's difficult to believe that this is merely a recording group and not a working band. But then, top professionals are capable of that sort of deception. The flow of solo and ensemble sections is extremely smooth and the solos themselves without exception are remarkably concise, direct, imaginative, and architecturally sound. These qualities are seldom found with such consistency elsewhere.

-- Ken Hazen

Kenny Horst is a very versatile drummer/writer who happens to love jazz in all its forms. The writing on this album is all kenny and you can hear that it's hard to pin down exactly what that means. It sounds like Kenny doesn't like to be labeled so he plays all the moods and forms of jazz and funk that turn him on!

The musicians that Kenny chose for this album continue the obvious trend of "keeping it diverse." Let's start with Billy Peterson on acoustic and electric bass. This guy is hot! All through both sides I was drawn back to the fabulous bass lines and solos that Billy would fly through with such ease. And of course, Bobby Rockwell on tenor and soprano sax needs very few introductions. His love for Kenny's music is obvious in his playing, but the fact that he'd leave New York in the dead of winter to record in Minnesota is true dedication! Art Resnick also left New York to record all the piano work on the album and cowrite, with Kenny, the first tune, "Friday the Thirteenth." Art and Bobby Rockwell are both currently playing in New York with veterans Rufus Reid on bass and Victor Lewis on drums in a group called Expedition. All the trumpet work on the album sprang from the horn of Billy Shiell. It's obvious that he came to play! That makes up the core of the group but Kenny kept spicing things up -- with vocals by both Ben Sidran on "Tiptoe" and Josh Weaver on "One for Morris." And don't forget Mark Waggoner on guitar and Gordie Knudtson on congas for "Temple Dance" and "One for Morris."

The album starts with a flying rhythm section behind Billy's trumpet and solo on "Friday the Thirteenth" and Art's piano solo quickly confirms that these guys mean music. Add a quick and tasty solo by Kenny and you're left feeling that it was a great Friday. Then comes "Looking East", a tune filled with memories. Brings to mind a little phrase, "I'm not sure where I'm going, but I'm sure going to get there!" Rockwell's solo is superb. The last tune on the first side is "Temple Dance" which seemingly slices through the time barrier into a 7/4 reality. These guys like it too! Mark Waggoner's solo work shows instantly why Kenny decided on "a little guitar here" ... it's smokin'. My only question is, how many dancers can deal with "7"?

The second side is definitely fun. I got the distinct feeling that if you polled the group, "Tiptoe" would win the "Poppin' Groove" award. Ben Sidran struts his rap vocal as only "Doctor Ben" can. All the solos sound like everyone had been waiting for a chance like this. Well, you got it! ... and on record, no less. "Lil' Waltz" is not to be confused with a "little waltz" which doesn't sound anything like a Kenny Horst waltz. Add Rockwell and Resnick solos and you can throw out the "box step" completely. Some of my favorite jazz trumpet sounds came out of Billy's horn on his solo on Waltz (and I'd like to personally thank you Billy).

"One for Morris" is indeed a funky tribute to a fine tenor player, Morris Wilson. Sweet talk Josh Weaver into singing vocals and you've got me jumping ... sounds like it got Rockwell jumpin' too! And Kenny's drums are singing through the whole tune, alive and at home. This one's my favorite!

"Metrapolis" is urban jazz ("it's not a rope, it's hope!"). Straight-ahead, vibrant and searching. Just like Horst, Rockwell, Peterson, Shiell, Resnick, Sidran, Weaver, Waggoner and Knudtson!

-- Steve Booker


You're moving much too fast
with nowhere to go
You never take the time to grow
you reach too high to sink too low
Don't tread too hard

When you get frantic, you panic
you act a fool
Take your time, realign
slow is cool
Doin' it better, nice and slow
Step lightly now

Nice and easy gets it
better every time
Rush and you'll trip
on hard times
Life is an uphill climb

You'll do a better job if you
if you do it slow
Don't jump so quick
unless you know
Exactly where you wanna go
Don't tread so hard


One for Morris tries to convey a story about a saxophonist, and some of the feelings he could possibly be experiencing or thinking while playing a solo:

Screamin' in the nite
like a fire burning brite
Sounds in the darkness
that penetrate the nite
Made of woven thoughts
Woven dreams and clever schemes
Sheets of sound
as compensation
For the soul a remedy

Demons dancing 'round
Deep inside the sound
Visions of John Coltrane
Waiting to be found
Only on the stand
Can I reach the promised land
I'm out here and I'm free
And they can't take that away from me

Don't ask me what I give
Cause I forgot
What I give is what I've got
Here's my soul for all to see
Won't you come on here and
Listen to me

Giving more of me
Than anyone can see
Living in a world of total apathy
A certain kind of pride
Existing deep inside
My song is my prayer
Dedicate it to the unaware