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Kevin Toney began playing the piano when he was five. He gained some fame in 
the 1970s when he was the leader of The Blackbyrds, the Jazz/R&B group
founded by Donald Byrd. After leaving the group in the early 1980s, he became
known for playing contemporary jazz music in addition to working as a sideman
with such major names as Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Isaac Hayes and
Whitney Houston. However he was always more than just an R&B pianist, as he
shows on New American Suite. On what is arguably his finest recording thus
far, Toney is showcased in a trio with bassist Michael Bradford and drummer
Chris Coleman. He contributed eight of the nine compositions including the
intriguing “New American Suite” which goes from classical to straight ahead jazz
to Afro-Cuban jazz and back. Toney's soulful playing is at times a little
reminiscent of Ramsey Lewis although he displays his own musical personality.
While his other originals all have their strong moments, the highpoint is his
reworking of Scott Joplin's “The Entertainer.” Toney modernizes the piece and
explores each of its themes before ending the performance playing some
credible stride piano.



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