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The Clayton Brothers: Expressions

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Backed by pianist Bill Cunliffe and drummer Herlin Riley, John and Jeff Clayton travel a rich musical path that covers everything from down-home blues to Latin to standards to folk songs.

The opener, “Tonight I Won’t Be Singing No Blues,” is a funky shuffle-style blues that lets Jeff get down and dirty on tenor, while “Jazzy Bluesy Bossa Nova” begins with an effective bass harmonics ostinato; the tune’s reflective A section contrasts with the more aggressive bridge and demonstrates Jeff’s handiwork as a composer. Almost classical in nature due to its theme and variations approach, “Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child,” a duet for bass and English horn, conjures a haunting atmosphere. In a masterful stroke of programming, the mood and tempo turn around with a swinging rendition of “I Love You” that features a beautiful alto solo and an especially nice excursion across the keys by Bill Cunliffe. With Jeff Clayton’s ability to switch between a variety of instruments, John’s knack for laying practically any groove, and their overall eclecticism, the Claytons, one of jazz’s more unique ensembles, are as entertaining as they are musical.