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Daniel Bennett Group: Clockhead Goes to Camp

Mike Oppenheim By

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Clockhead Goes to Camp, by the Daniel Bennett, is a refreshing album in its originality, positivity, and apparent simplicity. There are many ways in which this is not a typical jazz album. The instrumentation is one of them. Fronted by Daniel Bennett on saxophone and clarinet, a prominent percussion background, folk inspired guitar, and a rumbling upright bass—this album could easily be filed under any number of categories in the record store.

Of the 13 tracks, all originals, the majority are between two and four minutes long. However, it is precisely the concise and understated nature of the tracks that make this album stand out. Most songs feature a very clear statement of the head, followed by focused and communicative solos, ending with a simple restatement of the melody. Clockhead Goes to Camp is sparse on flash, but tremendously effective in communicating a mood of ease, celebration and joy.

The term "musicking," coined by Christopher Small, comes to mind. Essentially, musicking refers to the social aspects of all musical encounters. In this case, the synchronicity of the musicians, and each player's sensitivity to the overall dynamic, evokes an image of a group truly enjoying the musical interaction and creative processes involved in this offering.

"An Elephant Buys a Car" is representative of the kinds of catchy melodies and clever turns of phrase that define this album. It also features an extended percussion break and various non-instrumental sounds, highlighting the timbral subtleties of the ensemble's instrumentation and aesthetic sensibilities.

"Nine Piglets" is a flute-driven piece in cut-time, with muted guitar lines backing much of the head. The melody flows seamlessly from theme to theme, melting into solos, before coagulating into the final statement of the initial melody. The solos on this tune, and especially the guitar solo, are among the highlights, bordering on flamboyance, but just restrained enough to maintain the laid-back vibe of the album.

"John Lizard and Mr. Pug" is in a lilting 6/8 time, supporting a poignant clarinet melody. "Dr. Duck's Beautiful New Kitchen" features a style of guitar strumming more associated with folk or indie music than jazz, and "Sandpaper is Necessary" is an unaccompanied display of Bennett's saxophone prowess.

The album concludes all too soon with "Ten Piglets," beginning with a beautiful, chorus soaked iteration of the melody, progressing into a contrapuntal meditation, summing up the experience of the album in just one fleeting thought.

The power of Clockhead Goes to Camp resides in its fundamental ease, diversity, and effect of peace and tranquility.

Track Listing: The Old Muskrat; An Elephant Hugs a New Car;Nine Piglets; Mr Duck’s Beautiful New Kitchen; Clockhead Goes to Camp; Whatever it Might Be; Last Summer at Camp Creepy; Paint The Fence; Sandpaper is Necessary; John Lizard and Mr Pug; Cabin 12 Escapes Into the Night; Patience; Ten Piglets.

Personnel: Daniel Bennett; alto saxophone, flute and clarinet: Mark Cocheo; guitar: Peter Brendler; bass: Tyson Stubelek; drums.

Title: Clockhead Goes to Camp | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Manhattan Daylight Media Group

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