The Eddie Daniels Quartet: Mean What You Say (2006)
Multi-reed player Eddie Daniels has long been considered one of the best clarinetists in the business, and that ranking often includes Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw. Although he still does record rather infrequently (this is only his third album in the past ten years), Daniels still places in the jazz polls as one of the best clarinetists around, usually in the company of such artists as Ken Peplowski, Kenny Davern and Buddy DeFranco, insofar as active players are concerned.
Eddie Daniels is the product of the New York educational system. He graduated from the High School of Performing Arts, played first clarinet in the All City High School Orchestra and played alto sax in Marshall Brown's Newport Youth Band. The graduate of Brooklyn College and Juilliard's Masters program was offered an opportunity to join the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Big Band in 1966, where he remained for six years. The following decade saw Daniels recording on mostly independent labels like Choice, Candid and Muse.
Beginning in 1986, Eddie Daniels enjoyed a seven-year contract with GRP Records, where he became more of a national presence, concentrating almost entirely on the clarinet. Those seven albums, including the Grammy-winning Memos From Paradise, revealed his expertise in mainsteam, crossover and classical jazz. Daniels now lives in Sante Fe, New Mexico; he performs in Los Angeles on occasion as both leader and sideman. His current working group features pianist Tom Ranier, bassist Dave Carpenter and drummer Joe LaBarbera.
For this recording, Daniels reunites with two of his earliest musical partners, pianist Hank Jones and bassist Richard Davis, as well as drummer Kenny Washington. Although all but four of the tracks feature Daniels on clarinet, his masterful use of tenor sax is clearly evident on the title tune, "My One And Only Love," "You And The Night And The Music" and "How Deep Is The Ocean." On "Mean What You Say," Daniels take charge with an unhurried but very lyrical tenor sax performance which shows the strong influence of Stan Getz. In listening to "My One And Only Love," I can't say I wasn't thinking of John Coltrane's version (sans Johnny Hartman). Let's just say that Daniels plays the ballad in the same style without imitation. The combination of this strong melody and the lyrical performance combine for a winning entry.
The clarinet tracks demonstrate an mastery of various styles, all played with expert proficiency. "It Had To Be You" is given a lenthy reading befitting Daniels' poignant melody line and solo. Daniels takes Harry Warren's "Nagasaki," often featured as a trad jazz offering, at top speed, with solid accompaniment from Jones and Davis; Kenny Washington provides some tasty brushwork. The Ellington piece "Azure" leaves the listener with a seven-minute appreciation of the tune and the clarinetist's skill. Finally, the Charlie Parker anthem "My Little Suede Shoes" shows how effectively this instrument can be used in a bebop setting.
Track Listing: Mean What You Say; It Had To Be You; Passion Flower; Nagasaki; My One And Only Love; Why You; Azure; The Touch Of Your Lips; You And The Night And The Music; I'm Getting Sentimental Over You; My Little Suede Shoes; How Deep Is The Ocean.
Personnel: Eddie Daniels: clarinet, tenor sax; Hank Jones: piano; Richard Davis: bass; Kenny Washington: drums.