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Bebop Spoken There

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

CD Review - Julian Bliss: A Tribute to Benny Goodman.

Julian Bliss (clt); Neal Thornton (pno); Jim Hart (vbs); Martin Shaw (tpt); Colin Oxley (gtr); Tim Thornton (bs); Matt Skelton (dms).
(Review by Lance.)
Benny Rides Again! This tribute to the King of Swing is an absolute gem re-capturing perfectly the feel of those distant days. Based loosely on the Goodman Sextet although augmented, by the addition of Martin Shaw on trumpet, to a Septet to incorporate some of the big band material - the opening mix of Don't Be That Way and Stomping at the Savoy is particularly, and effectively, well done.

Bliss, better known as a classical clarinettist, turns his attention to the small group works of Benny Goodman just as BG himself made forays into the classical repertoire.
With a hand-picked team, the spirit of the thirties and forties exudes from each track without loss of individuality.
The leader, a child prodigy at 5 and now 23, displays an innate affinity to the music producing a near perfect clarinet sound and, despite his classical upbringing, no lack of swing. Jim Hart once again proves his ability to handle any musical situation although he has had previous experience of the Goodman canon with Alan Barnes. Colin Oxley, not unknown in this neck of the woods, slots easily into the Charlie Christian role with impressive soloing and comping whilst Martin Shaw plays himself not attempting to go down the brash Harry James/Ziggy Elman path. His poignant duet with Bliss on Goodbye conveys the sadness of the Gordon Jenkins' tune.
Neal and Tim Thornton (are they related?*) on piano and bass, alongside the ubiquitous Matt Skelton, fill out the rhythm section making this a very tight ship as indeed all Goodman units were.
The King is dead - Long live the King!
A worthy tribute.
Julian Bliss: A Tribute to Benny Goodman. Signum Classics.
Lance.
*Neal and Tim Thornton are father and son and this is their first record together.

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