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Yellow Dog Blues

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Album Review

Although only a part-time affair in the 1990s, Soprano Summit (now often called Summit Reunion because it uses the same six musicians who appeared on the band's initial recording in 1973) remains one of the hottest groups in jazz. The interplay between Bob Wilber (usually on soprano) and clarinetist Kenny Davern is full of joy, the rhythm section would be difficult to improve upon and the ensembles are consistently memorable and often quite exciting. For this 1995 session, the sextet mostly brings new life to a variety of Dixieland warhorses (including "Darktown Strutters' Ball," "Hindustan," and a lengthy "Somebody Stole My Gal") although Irving Berlin's "I'll See You In C-U-B-A" is a bit obscure, and the folk song "Darling Nelly Gray" has not been recorded much in a jazz setting since Louis Armstrong teamed up with the Mills Brothers in the late '30s. All of the musicians have opportunities to solo; Bucky Pizzarelli contributes some chordal guitar displays, Milt Hinton plays a few percussive bass solos, Bobby Rosengarden takes some drum breaks on "Somebody Stole My Gal," and Dick Hyman constructs some typically wondrous improvisations in the swing tradition. But the emphasis is on Wilber and Davern and they sound as complementary and competitive as ever. Recommended.


Formed: 1972

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

The 1970s, an era best known in jazz as the "fusion years," seemed like a very unlikely time to form a classic jazz/mainstream group. At Dick Gibson's annual Colorado Jazz Party in 1972, Bob Wilber and Kenny Davern so enjoyed playing together during one song that within a short time Soprano Summit was formed. Wilber and Davern both doubled on sopranos and clarinets, and were originally joined by pianist Dick Hyman, guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli, bassist George Duvivier, and drummer Bobby Rosengarden,...
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Yellow Dog Blues, Soprano Summit
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