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Russ Reinberg: Blue Scarlett

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Reinberg’s lovely, full, rounded clarinet tone is reason enough to recommend this comeback album recorded in 2003. But there’s more, of course, including his relaxed, warm, lyrical solos and the rhythm section support of guitarist Larry Koonse, bassist Dave Stone and drummer Ray Brinker. The tune list-standards such as “I Surrender, Dear,” “Sweet Lorraine,” “Stardust,” “Daydream” and “If I Had You,” plus Reinberg’s four originals-is compatible with mainstream jazz clarinet tradition.

Reinberg and Koonse share similar melodic qualities-uncrowded designs, well-turned phrases and breathing room. Their minor key work on “Lover Man” is haunting. If you’re interested in comparisons with other clarinetists, you might detect an embellishment here and there reminiscent of Ken Peplowski and a trace of tone that recalls Pete Fountain.

Despite this album, Reinberg’s career remains partly a mystery. According to press material, he was immersed in music during the 1980s, appearing on TV shows, at concerts and even at Carnegie Hall. Then in 1988 after a performance with a group of Concord Jazz all-stars, he quit playing for 12 years. Let’s hope he stays around for a long time after this second coming.