Until I ran across this disc, I'd never for a moment considered how rarely the clarinet is given a really clear expositional base, but the duet format suits it quite nicely indeed—well, in Eli Yamin (piano) and Evan Christopher's (clarinet) hands anyway 'cause the disc is full of not only great musicianship but a lot of surprises as well (the rumbly closing of Ellington's The Mooche by Christopher was completely unexpected and way cool). More than once, as in You Got to Treat It Gentle, Louie's Dream: For our Jazz Heroes reminded me of those ultra-mellow dreamy sequences in old cartoons wherein the characters are drifting off to delicious sleep, settling down in cloudy featherbeds, making the audience happily drowsy just in the viewing.
During the entirety of the set, Christopher's part is recessed in order to give Yamin full range up front. The de-emphasis is in volume only, however, as the pianist manages to capture both rhythm section and co-conversant duties simultaneously. Slipping elements of boogie and stride into the repertoire, oft slowed down for precise elocution within the context of the entire disc, keeps the environment slinking and bop-stepping along with Yamin's fluid licorice stick waxing by turns pensive, inquisitive, evanescent, and hoppin'. I think there's enough color, humor, and clever structures that even kids will be intrigued with several songs (Dancers in Love and others), but this is definitely a disc for adults with sophisticatedly urbane tastes, a disc of stripped down jazz chamber music for a jet set in need of the tonic of times gone by.
Yamin's tones are seductive, dulcet, intelligent, and carefully measured, resulting in a sound almost now totally disappeared from a good deal of even the revivalist movement, and the way he and Christopher work in tandem arranges the sonosphere so adeptly that a third partner would've been intrusive. Like me, I think you'll find that it's striking, once Louie's Dream winds down, just how little of this kind of music is produced. Why that might be, I haven't the faintest, but I have to suspect that once these refrains make their way into other composers' and musicians' ears, that dearth will begin to disappear.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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