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March 2006

Clay Jenkins
Matters of Time
Jazz Compass

Jenkins left Los Angeles five years ago to teach at the Eastman School in Rochester, N.Y., but maintains his West Coast ties. He records for Jazz Compass, the L.A. label he formed with Joe LaBarbera, Larry Koonse and Tom Warrington, but his band on Matters of Time is East Coast, with an exception: Karrin Allyson, a Midwesterner, sings on two tracks.

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Clay Jenkins

Jenkins has a straight, vibratoless tone. He likes living on or beyond the fringe of harmonies. He takes unanticipated interval leaps. He often emphasizes phrases by setting them off with pauses. He is likely to start a piece with improvisation and not get around to playing the melody until the performance is well underway. He does that to great effect, strolling with bass and drums, on Thelonious Monk's "Trinkle Tinkle."

Tenor saxophonist Rich Perry and pianist Harold Danko, regular colleagues of the trumpeter, luxuriate in Jenkins' approach. On Jerome Kern's "In Love in Vain" and "Yesterdays," Allyson accommodates herself to Jenkins' edgy methodology. Her delivery of "Yesterdays" is haunting. Jenkins dedicates the song to the late tenor saxophonist Bill Perkins, who encouraged and inspired his adventuresome ways. His title tune and Danko's "Chet's Maze" are stimulating originals.

Originally published in March 2006
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