May 1997

Clusone Trio
Love Henry
Gramavision

A Clusone Trio concert can be likened to a brand of post-modern vaudeville, where the japes are played in mostly musical terms. Mostly, because drummer Han Bennink's boffo stage antics are in and of themselves a treat that no audio-only CD could convey. The comedy-team chemistry extends to reed player Michael Moore, the wry straight-man of the group, and wildcard Ernst Reijseger, who occasionally lays his cello across his lap and merrily strums away. Fortunately, enough of the fun comes across on CD such as their second Gramavision program, Love Henry.

This Frankfurt concert has plenty of the staples Clusone fans have come to expect like a "who's on first" routine-Irving Berlin chestnuts; plum covers like Lee Konitz's "It's You" and Johnny Mercer's "Cuckoo in the Clock;" the hot samba medley of "Au Velho Pedro" and "Marie Pompoen;" raucous Bennink solos and other freely improvised tomfoolery. There's a few surprises, too, especially the initially yearning and ultimately roiling take on the traditional title tune, and Moore's "In the Company of Angels," which bookends a nimbly swinging theme with mournful clarinet statements.

While Clusone Trio is a pure joy to behold, it gives a far less than complete picture of Moore's talents both as a player and a composer. For those interested in more Moore, check out the latest from his self-produced Ramboy label: the excellent MGM Trio features his clarinet and compositions in a trio with Marilyn Crispell and Gerry Hemingway; tunes for horn guys is a strong program of wind quintet pieces.

Originally published in May 1997
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