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Album Review

Bebop thrived on both sides of the Atlantic during the late '40s. While some Americans treated bop as nothing more than affected "hep talk" and a way of dressing up funny, there were profound artistic innovations at the heart of this new music. Kenny Clarke helped to establish bop in Europe, and the recordings he made in Paris document a wonderful flowering of early modern jazz that would have a decisive impact on the next half century of musical evolution worldwide. Trumpeter Howard McGhee was the prime focus of a session that came at the end of a full season of recording activity during the spring of 1948. This was quite an octet in that John Lewis was the pianist, Hubert Fol and Jimmy Heath played alto saxophones, and Jesse Powell — featured on "I'm in the Mood for Love" — played tenor sax. Anyone who's fond of bassist Percy Heath should hear him carrying the melodic line on "Out of Nowhere." Six sides waxed for the small-time Century label in New York on January 25, 1949, resound with Milt Jackson's vibraphone — he also doubled on piano — and Kenny Dorham's fine trumpeting combined with the unusual tonalities of a French horn played by Julius Watkins. Furthermore, Joe Harris expanded Clarke's percussion section by handling congas and timbale. The results are something like chamber bop, dignified and progressive. "You Go to My Head" features the vibes — Jackson makes the ballad feel like a blues — and "Roll 'Em Bags" sounds something like "Billie's Bounce." Back in Paris, Clarke's next recording date involved Hubert Fol and a facile trombonist by the name of Nat Peck. "Iambic Pentameter," a wild feature for the drums, closely resembles "Epistrophy," while famously opinionated jazz critic Hugo Panassie's name is sent up in an adventurous bop study called "Assy Pan Assy." On March 3, 1950, Clarke participated in a remarkable session with the brothers Hubert and Raymond Fol and bassist Pierre Michelot. Their version of "Out of Nowhere" is a gem. The first version of "These Foolish Things" is so bopped up it's hard to recognize. Version number two, a feature for the bassist, is similarly veiled through harmonic reconstruction. "Those Fol-ish Things" at last reveals the melody, played on alto by Hubert Fol. These variations survive as a pleasant example of the quirkiness of the boppers. The CD closes with two excellent tracks from the spring of 1950, with Gerald Wiggins, Nat Peck, and world-class saxophonist James Moody joining the pack.


Born: 09 January 1914 in Pittsburgh, PA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s

Kenny Clarke was a highly influential if subtle drummer who helped to define bebop drumming. He was the first to shift the time-keeping rhythm from the bass drum to the ride cymbal, an innovation that has been copied and utilized by a countless number of drummers since the early '40s. Clarke played vibes, piano and trombone in addition to drums while in school. After stints with Roy Eldridge (1935) and the Jeter-Pillars band, Clarke joined Edgar Hayes' Big Band (1937-38). He made his recording debut...
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Top Albums and Songs by Kenny Clarke

1948-1950, Kenny Clarke
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  • 6,99 €
  • Genres: Jazz, Music, Bop
  • Released: 01 January 2001

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