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Bobby Gordon/Dave McKenna: Clarinet Blue

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Gordon is a clarinet stalwart of the traditional circuit. He was a student of the drastically underappreciated Joe Marsala and reflects his teacher’s fluid tone, the woody quality of Jimmy Noone, and Pee Wee Russell’s phrasing and eccentric vibrato. In his collection of older jazz and pop standards on Clarinet Blue, Gordon lays back in relaxed tempos, not surprising or making demands on his listeners, but reassuring them with pleasant variations. He has a bewitching lower register. The irrepressible energy in McKenna’s solos cranks intensity into the performances. Frank Tate and Joe Ascione, on bass and drums, work efficiently and supportively with Gordon and McKenna. Tate solos tastefully, with a roomy sound.