It seems like yesterday that Kenny Davern was "the kid" that played with Eddie Condon. Well, the kid reaches 70 this year and continues to improve. Surely, Condon is up there somewhere toasting Davern with a glass of his favorite Chivas.
Kenny Davern has had drummer Tony DeNicola with him on his last four recordings. There's a certain magic in the air when these two work together in a small group. It's somewhat like the affinity between Goodman and Krupa. This live recording is no exception.
The 2004 quartet makes old tunes sound new and never boring. They kick off the set with a rousing version of "Ole Miss," fist waxed by the Original Dixieland Jazz Band in 1918 but made popular later by Bechet and Armstrong. This reading features a nice solo by bassist, Greg Cohen.
Guitarist James Chirillo is featured on the quartet's version of another W.C.Handy tune, "Careless Love." Davern launches into a pretty solo and a subtle tip of the hat to Pee Wee Russell. Chirillo's fingers fly with a show stealing solo on "Somebody Stole My Gal" and there's some nice work by Greg Cohen too.
This reviewer has received some thirty-five versions of "Summertime" during 525 reviews for this site. Kenny Davern's rendition is one of the best. The clarinetist is a technical wonder with a sincere respect for tradition. His solo is brilliant and emotional.
"Spreadin' Knowledge Around" is a obscure gem from the pen of bandleader Ben Pollack. Pollack recorded the tune for the Vocalion label in 1936 under the pseudonym of The Dean and His Kids
and the band included Harry James, Irving Fazola, Freddie Slack and the leader on drums. Everyone but Kenny Davern forgot the song. He revived it with his 1991 band and now he's doing it again. The quartet version is pure fun for the musicians and everyone gets a kick at the can. Bassist, Greg Cohen delivers a fine "slap bass" solo that smacks of "Pops" Foster.
In the humble opinion of this writer, the showpiece of the concert is the traditional "C.C.Rider." While the melody has been around seemingly forever, Ma Rainey wrote lyrics for it in the 20's. James Chirillo is inspired here by many of the early blues guitarists but he manages to put it all together in a fresh modern style. Kenny Davern is inventive in his approach. While he briefly acknowledges Pee Wee Russell, the clarinetist is very much his own man on this refreshing reading of the old blues favorite. It's spectacular!
The Davern quartet came up with a very nice version of the 1945 hit, "These Foolish Things" and wind up the concert with a rousing version of "Royal Garden Blues." There's some great work by Tony DeNicola and the clarinetist. In Concert - Albuquerque, 2004
is one of Kenny Davern's finest efforts and deserves a place on the shelf of any traditional jazz enthusiast. Five shining stars!