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May 1998

Clarence Penn
Penn's Landing
Criss Cross Jazz

Working with Warner Jams at the IAJE Convention Clarence Penn proved himself to be a consummate slickster at the drum kit-never overbearing, busy, or too loud, his accents, support work and the brief breaks he was afforded proved that in spades. Now comes his debut recording as a leader and the recorded work bears out his gifts as well. Penn's Landing is a date crackling with fire right from the jump, though this is not a case of fire for the sake of firing. No carpet bomber, Penn knows how to carefully place his grenades; check out his exchange with trumpeter John Swana about 2/3 of the way through Swana's solo on Ron Blake's "RE: Evolution."

Blake on tenor sax and bassist Rodney Whitaker round out Penn's complimentary cast. The Penn-written title track with its shades of "Softly As In A Morning Sunrise," is one of those loping grooves perfect for tenor players that is remindful of John Coltrane and Elvin Jones' partnership. This is likely the best recorded showcase Ron Blake has received yet.

Originally published in May 1998
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