October 1997

The Clayton Brothers

Backed by pianist Bill Cunliffe and drummer Herlin Riley, John and Jeff Clayton travel a rich musical path that covers everything from down-home blues to Latin to standards to folk songs.

The opener, "Tonight I Won't Be Singing No Blues," is a funky shuffle-style blues that lets Jeff get down and dirty on tenor, while "Jazzy Bluesy Bossa Nova" begins with an effective bass harmonics ostinato; the tune's reflective A section contrasts with the more aggressive bridge and demonstrates Jeff's handiwork as a composer. Almost classical in nature due to its theme and variations approach, "Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child," a duet for bass and English horn, conjures a haunting atmosphere. In a masterful stroke of programming, the mood and tempo turn around with a swinging rendition of "I Love You" that features a beautiful alto solo and an especially nice excursion across the keys by Bill Cunliffe. With Jeff Clayton's ability to switch between a variety of instruments, John's knack for laying practically any groove, and their overall eclecticism, the Claytons, one of jazz's more unique ensembles, are as entertaining as they are musical.

Originally published in October 1997

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