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Album Review

Kenny Davern remains the premier jazz clarinetist of his generation, and at 64 shows no signs of slowing down. As a staunch traditionalist, Davern has picked eight standards, primarily from the late teens-early '20s, with two exceptions, a smoldering take on the '30s classic "Summertime," and the '50s out-and-out jam vehicle "Bernie's Tune." As a clarinetist, Davern is about as perfect as they come. He can evoke deep blue after-hours phrases, as on "Summertime"; wail with effect in the upper register during "That Da Da Strain"; or play precisely hewn triplet and eighth-note figures, as on the Jimmie Noone evergreen "Apex Blues." With the addition throughout of the two exceptional guitarists Bucky Pizzarelli and Howard Alden, Davern can do no wrong, as this kind of support lends itself to the ultimate in spontaneity, the essence of great jazz. There's serious fun happening on this disc that should produce many smiles and grins from fans worldwide. The tunes are all extended, lasting from six to nine minutes, the title track finale a sweet and lengthy coda to this rock-solid effort. As a result, everyone gets to stretch out, much like a concert performance. This kind of brilliance is rare, but not surprising in the hands of a grand master like Davern. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi


Born: January 7, 1935 in Huntington, NY

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

Described in The New York Times as "the finest clarinetist playing today" in the 1990s, that high praise wasn't far off the mark, as it applied to Kenny Davern in the autumn of his life, at the peak of his powers. Call him a jazz purist, even a snob, but Davern believed in playing standards, and that he did. Tunes by George Gershwin, Eubie Blake, Fats Waller, Irving Berlin; what are sometimes referred to as Great American Songbook tunes. He was often praised for the clarity and pureness of his tone,...
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