by Willard Manus
The subtitle of this new CD--Clayton Brothers and Friends--and its playlist tells it all: Friday Struttin', This Ain't Nothin' But a Party, Blues Gathering, The Happiest of Times.
Jeff and John Clayton, two of the most famous siblings in the jazz world, got together in the studio with the rest of their band--nephew Gerald Clayton on piano, Terell Stafford, trumpet, Obed Calvaire, drums--and decided to have a joyous blowing session. To mark the occasion they wrote ten new charts and invited two of their pals, trombonist Wycliffe Gordon and vibest Stefon Harris, to take part in the festivities. The result is one of the most accomplished and enjoyable jazz albums I've heard in years.
Everything about this new release stands out--the writing, arranging, soloing and collaborating. Whether these old pros are attacking a rollicking number like Friday Struttin' or venturing deep into the blues with Billie Holiday's Don't Explain, they manage to play with exquisite beauty, feeling and precision.
CLAYTON BROTHERS AND FRIENDS not only showcases the harmonic gifts of the ensemble but gives each of its seven members a chance to stretch out and jam. The result is there for the listening.