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The Clayton Brothers: The Gathering (2013)

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The Clayton Brothers: The Gathering How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

The Clayton Brothers—John Clayton
John Clayton
John Clayton
b.1952
bass, acoustic
on bass and Jeff Clayton
Jeff Clayton
Jeff Clayton
b.1954
saxophone
on reeds—have been playing together for over 30 years, either in their small groups or in the large Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra
Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra
Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra
b.1995
band/orchestra
, formed in 1985 in partnership with drummer Jeff Hamilton
Jeff Hamilton
Jeff Hamilton
b.1953
drums
. In small contexts, they have specialized in post-bop swing with a touch of funk, while the critically acclaimed big band is known for its crisp, intricate arrangements. The brothers have recorded many CDs in both configurations and traveled worldwide.

In The Gathering , they decided to augment their usual quintet, currently including John's son Gerald Clayton on piano, trumpeter Terrell Stafford and drummer Obed Calvaire. They also bring in trombonist Wycliffe Gordon
Wycliffe Gordon
Wycliffe Gordon
b.1967
trombone
and vibraphonist Stefon Harris
Stefon Harris
Stefon Harris
b.1973
vibraphone
on selected numbers. The purpose, according to John, is further "harmonic exploratory of hard bop, ballads and blues all with the funk infusion of flavor." This goal has been well achieved through a varied array of songs—two classic jazz standards and originals, mostly by Jeff.

Two of Jeff's compositions in contrasting styles are especially impressive. "This Aint Nothin' But A Party," starts with the piano and band in a funky, Les McCann
Les McCann
Les McCann
b.1935
piano
-type mode before the alto contributes a jubilant wail, and the trumpet soars into the stratosphere. "Tsunami," on the other hand, is a tone poem with the band evoking a catastrophic occurrence—jangling piano, torrential drums and shrieking alto contributing to the cry of chaos.

The guests get several opportunities to shine; specifically, Gordon's trombone takes a jaunty walk in the park with the rhythm section in Jeff's "Coup de Cone" and, on "Simple Pleasures," the warm exchanges between Harris and Gerald Clayton epitomize the song's title. In the Billie Holiday
Billie Holiday
Billie Holiday
1915 - 1959
vocalist
classic, "Don't Explain," with their sensitive blend of piano and bowed bass, father and son deliciously capture the song's subdued joy.

With The Gathering, the addition of additional players pays big dividends.

Track Listing: Friday Struttin'; Tsunami; Touch The Fog; This Ain't Nothin' But A Party; Stefon Fetchin' It; Don't Explain; Coupe De Cone; Somealways; Souvenir; Blues Gathering; Simple Pleasure; The Happiest Of Times.

Personnel: Jeff Clayton: alto saxophone, alto flute; John Clayton: bass; Terell Stafford: trumpet, flugelhorn; Gerald Clayton: piano; Obed Calvaire: drums; Wycliffe Gordon: trombone (1, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, 11); Stefon Harris: vibraphone; (3, 5, 10, 11).

Record Label: ArtistShare


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