Thomas Artin | Sparkill, NY | 12/16/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Two factors set this CD apart from Kenny Davern's other recordings. The first is the chosen repertoire, bespeaking the swing era more than the Chicago or New Orleans styles with which Kenny is usually associated. The second is the presence on the recording of pianist John Bunch, a sadly under-recognized jazz master (check out his recordings with the group "New York Swing") whose subtle, impulsive swing uniquely informs every rhythm section of which he is a part--not least here. The album opens with Fats Waller's little-known "That Rhythm Man." Then Johnny Green's "Out of Nowhere" calls forth from Kenny a fluid performance that amazingly echoes in the same breath Pee Wee Russell and Artie Shaw. The languid "Say It Isn't So," on which Kenny, in close to a whisper, hews to the lovely melody, becomes something of a feature for John Bunch, whose thoughtful improvisation freely roams the chord changes. Don Redman's "Cherry" and Eubie Blake's "You're Lucky to Me," both staples of the swing era, receive appropriately jaunty treatments. While "How Come You Do Me Like You Do?" harks back to that earlier era of jazz, John Bunch opens with a thoroughly up-to-date, bluesy solo very much in the groove. Kenny picks up the thread and slowly builds the song to the kind of intense conclusion so characteristic of his soaring clarinet. The CD closes with "Lullaby of the Leaves," a superb, if unusual, vehicle for both Kenny and John Bunch. It's not a flag-waver of a conclusion; Kenny takes the tune at a relaxed tempo, bearing witness that musical light is superior to heat. Midway, he carries on wonderful dialogues in turn with bassist Bob Haggart, guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli, and finally John Bunch before bringing the song to a quiet close."