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Reviewers: Don Mather, Tony Augarde, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby



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KENNY CLARKE

Klook's the Man

Proper PROPERBOX 120

 

 



CD1

1. I Found A New Baby
2. Once In A While
3. You're A Sweetheart
4. Sweet Sue
5. Epistrophy
6, 52nd Street Theme
7. Oo-Bop-Sh'Bam
8. Rue Chaptal (Royal Roost)
9. Confirmation
10. A La Colette (Cheryl)
11. Jumpin' There (Listen Here)
12. Jay Mac
13. Algerian Cynicism
14. Laurenzology
15. Doria
16. I'll Tell You In Any Minute
17. Working Eyes
18. Stuffy
19. The Man I Love
20. I Surrender Dear
21. Love In The Sun
22. Iambic Pentameter
23. Assy Panassy
24. Robbins' Nest
25. I'll Get You Let
26. Be Good, Girl

CD2

1. Sonor
2. Strollin'
3. Blues Mood
4. Skoot
5. Klook's Nook
6. Inhibitions
7. Baggin' The Blues
8. Telefunken Blues
9. Summer Evening
10. Oz The Wizzard
11. I Dig You The Most
12. Pru's Blooze
13. Plenty For Kenny
14. Cute Tomato
15. Now's The Time

CD3

1. With Apologies To Oscar
2. Hear Me Talkin' To Ya
3. Willow Weep For Me
4. Bohemia After Dark
5. Chasm
6. Late Entry
7. Will Wail
8. Volcano
9. La Porta Thority
10. I Hear A Rhapsody
11. Yesterdays
12. Play, Fiddle, Play

CD4

1. Cottontail
2. Your Host
3. Tricotism
4. Tom's Thumb
5. You Turned The Tables On Me
6. Afternoon In Paris
7. Apothegm
8. 'Round Midnight
9. On A Riff
10. When Lights Are Low
11. Oblique
12. Jeru
13. Eronel
14. Tahiti
15. Bemsha Swing
16. Blue Serge
17. Swing Spring
18. The Squirrel
19. Cadenze.
 
Kenny Clarke - Drums, xylophone,
with groups led by himself, Michel De Villers, Hubert Fol, Kenny Clarke/Ernie Wilkins; recorded 1938-56

Kenny Clarke (nicknamed "Klook") was the doyen of bebop drummers. Alongside such people as Max Roach and Roy Haynes, he pioeered some of the techniques which became the standard for bebop and are still in use by many drummers today.

Kenny made his first recording as a leader in 1938 when he was in Edgar Hayes' band. While on tour in Sweden, Kenny recorded four tracks with five members of the Hayes band. These are the first four tracks on this four-CD boxed set, with Kenny on xylophone, not drums, and vocalist James Anderson taking most of the limelight with his bland singing. The liveliest track is Sweet Sue, with some swinging xylophone from Kenny.

After the 1938 tracks, there is a long gap before the next recordings in this Properbox - a 1946 session in which Kenny led a nine-piece group, mainly members of Dizzy Gillespie's big band (for which Kenny played for eight months from May 1946). These four tracks are firmly in the bebop idiom, with dynamic solos from Fats Navarro and Sonny Stitt. These include the first examples of Kenny Clarke as a composer - co-writing Epistrophy with Thelonious Monk and composing Rue Chaptal on his own. Kenny's drums are not particularly prominent, although you can sense him driving the band along.

After his stint with Dizzy Gillespie, Kenny joined the Tadd Dameron band for a while before rejoining Gillespie. This boxed set contains no recordings by either of these bands - nor by the Modern Jazz Quartet, for which Kenny was the original drummer. This is a pity, as it means that this collection fails to give a fully rounded picture of Kenny's achievements, but the compiler seems mainly to have chosen sessions in which Kenny was the leader.

A jump forward to 1948 brings us to the first of several sessions that Kenny recorded in Paris, a city he took to his heart. These include Americans like Benny Bailey and Cecil Payne, as well as such Europeans as Hubert Fol and Pierre Michelot. Again, Kenny stays mainly in gthe background, although he takes a short solo on Working Eyes (a tune later known as How Can You Do a Thing Like That to Me and recorded by Erroll Garner in his famous "Concert by the Sea". And Iambic Pentameter is predominantly a drum feature for Kenny, where he plays a long solo based mostly on the single- and double-stroke rolls. We can be glad to hear these seldom-heard Paris sessions, especially as they prove that France had abundant jazz talent in these postwar years.

The second and third discs in this set concentrate on recordings made in the USA from 1954 to 1956, with such notable musicians as Milt Jackson, Donald Byrd, Ernie Wilkins and Frank Wess. Kenny Clarke gets more solo space on Plenty for Kenny and Now's the Time. The first six tracks on the third CD mark the recording debut of Cannonball Adderley and his brother Nat - with a sextet led by Kenny Clarke and also including Donald Byrd, Jerome Richardson, Horace Silver and Paul Chambers. Cannonball produces some impressively fiery playing, as well as exhibiting his sensitivity in Willow Weep for Me. The remaining six tracks on the third CD are from the 1956 "Klook's Clique" session by a quintet that contained trumpeter Donald Byrd and pianist Ronnie Ball (an emigrant from England).

The final CD consists of four tracks recorded in the USA and 15 recorded in Paris, all in 1956. Once again, the French jazzmen prove equal partners with the American musicians. Highlights include Pepper Adams's sterling work on baritone sax on the first four tracks and Martial Solal's distinctive piano in the Paris tracks. As the collection ends in 1956, we hear nothing of Kenny Clarke's later work with such people as Bud Powell or as joint leader of the Clarke-Boland Big Band. So this boxed set is an interesting sample of Kenny's early years, albeit an incomplete one. It is also interesting for the many other musicians we hear along the way, often in little-known recordings. We can be grateful to Proper Records for another well-filled Properbox at budget price, with tracks digitally remastered and a 56-page booklet full of useful information and evocative photos.


Tony Augarde

 



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