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Kenny Davern/Joe Temperley: Live at the Floating Jazz Festival

More than 20 years after Gerry Mulligan first suggested the idea to producer Hank O’Neal, we have a recording featuring a front line of clarinet and baritone saxophone. Regrettably, Mulligan never recorded with Pee Wee Russell or Kenny Davern as he had hoped, but this congenial meeting of clarinetist Davern and baritonist Joe Temperley substitutes nicely.

While selecting performers for the 18th Annual Floating Jazz Festival to be held aboard the Queen Elizabeth 2 in the fall of 2000, O’Neal came up with the successful idea of featuring Davern and Temperley as a clarinet-baritone duo accompanied by pianist John Bunch, bassist Michael Moore, guitarist Joe Cohn and drummer Joe Ascione. With the youngest member (Ascione) born in 1961 and the eldest (Bunch) born 40 years before that, the band consisted of a widely experienced group of veterans, most of whom had performed in both mainstream and modern contexts. Accordingly, their music resists strict categorization and its eclecticism is reflected in its repertoire: “Creole Love Call” and “Mood Indigo” share the program with “Blue Monk” and “Bernie’s Tune,” for example.

The pairing of the two woodwinds capable of exploring both the high and low extremes of pitch provides the ensemble sections with a unique and refreshing flavor. And given the superior musicians involved, the improvisations are as consummately professional as one would expect. Also noteworthy are Moore’s beautifully bowed solo on “Creole Love Call,” Temperley’s several virtuoso excursions on bass clarinet and the improvised duet by clarinet and bass clarinet on “Blue Monk.” The CD’s occasional clarinet and bass clarinet combinations make for a lovely sound.

Originally Published