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Russ Reinberg: Blue Scarlett (2004)

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Russ Reinberg: Blue Scarlett How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

In the liner notes to this delightful album, Ken Borgers writes that Blue Scarlett marks clarinetist Russ Reinberg's "first performance of any kind in nearly fifteen years. I find that hard to believe. Either Reinberg kept his chops sharp by woodshedding diligently during his lengthy "retirement, or playing clarinet is much like riding a bicycle—once one has done it, one never forgets how. Whatever the case, there are no signs of rust here, no unsightly blemishes that must be brushed aside or swept under the rug. Reinberg is a world-class player, and it's a shame we've not heard more from him.

One of the advantages of playing jazz clarinet these days is that the field is fairly wide open, with no more than a handful of well-respected luminaries on the scene—the names Don Byron, Eddie Daniels, Ken Peplowski, Jimmy Giuffre and Marty Ehrlich spring to mind, along with older hands Buddy DeFranco, Kenny Davern, Bob Wilber, Putte Wickman and Antti Sarpila, the last two of whom are relatively unknown outside Europe. Stylistically, Reinberg invokes memories of the Golden Age of the clarinet (think Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, DeFranco, Tony Scott, Pee Wee Russell, Abe Most, Jimmy Hamilton and their contemporaries).

Reinberg has marshaled a splendid rhythm section—guitarist Larry Koonse obviates the need for a piano—and together they offer an essentially laid-back session of durable tunes from the American Songbook with four pleasant originals by the leader: "Junior, "Walking, "Never Enough and "Blue Scarlett. Reinberg and Koonse share most of the solo space, and each one is a pleasure to hear. That's true of the album as a whole, which may not set any pulses to racing but is musically strong and consistently rewarding.

Track Listing: Junior; I Surrender Dear; Sweet Lorraine; Stardust; Limehouse Blues; Daydream; Squatty Roo; The Very Thought of You; Walking; Never Enough; If I Had You; Blue Scarlett; Lover Man; As Long as I Live; Singin the Blues (61:58).

Personnel: Russ Reinberg: clarinet; Larry Koonse: guitar; Dave Stone: bass; Ray Brinker: drums.

Record Label: Jazzed Media

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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