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Larry Combs/Eddie Daniels: Crossing the Line

Eddie Daniels is one of the finest clarinetists in jazz, and Larry Combs, as principal clarinetist of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, holds down one of the world’s top classical clarinet positions. Together, they have produced a splendid recording of music that spans both realms (as well as in-between) and shows each performer to be more than adept in the other’s world. Crossing the Line (Summit) showcases the prodigious duo in three straight recital pieces (by Ponchielli, Pleyel and W.F. Bach, the first one with a string quintet), a pair of fully or partially jazz-influenced works (by Gordon Goodwin and William O. Smith) and four straightahead jazz tracks with a standard rhythm section (Bud Powell’s “Hallucinations,” Bill Evans’ “We Will Meet Again,” “Blue Monk” and an André Victor Correa samba). They also place some short, improvised, duo “noodles” in between. Both clarinetists are so extraordinarily technically proficient that it’s not always possible to tell who’s who on the classical works. And though one can recognize Daniels’ improvisational style on the jazz cuts, Combs, due to his longtime interest in and experience with jazz, more than holds his own there.

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