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Ballads, Burners and Blues

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Album Review

Allan Vaché has made his name as a clarinetist in the traditional New Orleans style, and if you look at the instrumentation here you'll probably expect more of the same: he leads a traditional front line consisting of clarinet, cornet (Ed Polcer), and trombone (the great Dan Barrett), and the program opens with a joyfully straight-ahead rendition of that Dixieland chestnut "The Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gives to Me." But then things get a bit twisted: a piano-and-clarinet duet setting on "I'm Glad There Is You," a shuffling R&B arrangement of W.C. Handy's "Yellow Dog Blues," a stately rendition of "Besame Mucho," and even a sprightly swing version of the 1960s pop hit "Our Day Will Come." Vaché's playing is sweet and limpid throughout; his solos are never needlessly complicated, but they're also never simplistic. The sumptuous recording quality is also worth noting. Fans of traditional jazz aren't necessarily known for adventurousness, but they should make it a point to check this one out — this wonderful album shows that it really is possible to respect tradition and break the rules at the same time.


Genre: Jazz

When Allan Vaché plays swing on his clarinet, the smooth sounds invite comparisons to a young Benny Goodman, which isn't surprising since the King of Swing was one of Vaché's chief influences. Vaché can be downright blistering as well as warm and inviting and his graceful playing makes even complicated pieces seem easy. Critics also compare him to jazz clarinetist Peanuts Hucko. Vaché evinced an early aptitude for music, which he pursued while at college during the 1970s. He became a student of...
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Ballads, Burners and Blues, Allan Vaché and Friends
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