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Kenny Davern/Flip Phillips: Spanish Eyes

As Gene Lees makes clear in his notes, there is escape from bebop. There’s none of it here, or just a soupcon on one track from Phil Woods, who can’t really help it, even if Benny Carter and Johnny Hodges were his earlier influences. But Phillips and Davern are a fine, tough pair and swing happily together despite a twenty-year age difference, a fact that goes to prove something. Certainly, their combination of tenor and clarinet falls agreeably on the ear, just as that of tenor and trombone does.

They’re caught in action here on a 1995 Floating Jazz Festival, with generally sympathetic backing by Derek Smith, Howard Alden, Milt Hinton and Joe Ascione, although some of Smith’s piano solos at up tempo sound spectacularly overcrowded.

The well-chosen program includes two attractive Phillips originals, “Flip’s Dido” and to match Davern’s “Elsa’s Dream,” an intriguing “Miki’s Dream.” Mrs. Davern is Elsa, but the identity of Dido and Miki is not revealed. The last and longest track, “Lover, Come Back to Me,” on which Woods appears, runs for twelve and a half minutes that many will presumably find climactically exciting.

Originally Published