Klang: Other Doors (2011)
With Other Doors, Klang leader and clarinetist James Falzone has documented a body of music he worked on, after being invited to celebrate what would have been Benny Goodman's 100th birthday, at the Chicago Jazz Festival back in 2009. As he's a highly creative individual in his own right, he hasn't gone for any sterile Swing Era reconstruction, instead fashioning a program which makes for rewarding listening even while it doesn't lose sight of its original stimulus.
But this is just as it should be. As an instrumentalist, Falzone is as much a player after John Carter as he is after Goodman, but for all that the reading of a warhorse like "Stompin' At The Savoy" has the air of some of Steve Lacy's readings of Herbie Nichols' compositions about it. That implies a level of originality in itself, of course, given that Lacy always brought his own highly personal instrumental voice to everything he did. On this occasion it's the happy bluster of Jeb Bishop's trombone which takes the solo honors, while the playing of the whole ensemble has a persuasive personal stamp.
To be sure, the ability to do something transformative is a mark of this ensemble, as it proves on Eubie Blake and Andy Razaf's "Memories Of You," which receives one of the most radical readings it's ever received on record. Falzone's statement of the melody has an air of purity about it, but it remains clear that he and his cohorts understand there's no point in going over old ground, if nothing new can be brought to it.
Goodman's own "Six Appeal" gets the kind of airing which brings the past and the present together in a manner that might elude a great many names, while Jason Roebke's bass seems to highlight the chamber aspects that, with the benefit of hindsight, were always present in Goodman's small group music. The leader's clarinet also proves to be a perfect balance of poise and reflection, which makes the same point in unequivocal terms.
"The Already and the Not Yet (for Charlie Christian)" seems at best an oblique nod to its dedicatee, but this hardly seems to matter when the music is so unassumingly persuasive. As much as anything in this program, the piece has the effect of highlighting the almost classical purity of Falzone's tone, and this in a piece which is as far from anything Goodman might have put together as anything here.
Ultimately both the specific and the general impressions are of something transformed, and the fact that everything in this program works is testament to the substance of the iconoclastic approach.
Track Listing: These Foolish Things (prelude); Breakfast Feud; Stompin' At The Savoy; Angles Sing; Memories Of You; Rose Room; Shevitz's Dream; Other Doors; The 4:08; Six Appeal; The Wang Wang Blues; The Already and the Not Yet (for Charlie Christian); Goodman's Paradox; AC/DC Current; These Foolish Things (postlude).
Personnel: KLANG: James Falzone: clarinet; Jason Adasiewicz: vibes; Jason Roebke: bass; Tim Daisy: drums, with special guests Josh Berman: cornet; Jeb Bishop: trombone; Keefe Jackson: tenor sax, bass clarinet; Fred Lonberg-Holm: cello, electronics.
Record Label: Allos Documents