Manhattan based saxophonist Daniel Bennett graduated from the New England Conservatory in 2004 and since then has made ever increasing waves as a composer, band leader and woodwind player in the New York theatre scene. Clockhead Goes To Camp is the Daniel Bennett Group's fourth album, following the success of the 2011 Peace and Stability Among Bears (Bennett Alliance Records). Bennett's music was described by the Boston Herald as "exploratory folk-jazz hybrid," but this album shows Bennett's playing has matured.
With a change of personnel apart from Bennett, the Daniel Bennett Group now has a sense of identity and the music conveys a group more certain of where and what its style is, and it is paying dividends. Where once, Bennett was feeling his way, finding his style, the Daniel Bennett Group, has now arrived. Clockhead Goes to Camp is an album which is easy to listen to but not easy listening. The tone is light, mellow and uplifting yet it has enough depth to give many surprises. With track titles like "The Old Muskrat ," "An Elephant Hugs A New Car," "Nine Piglets" (later "Ten Piglets") and "Mr Duck's Beautiful New Kitchen" there is a bit of an animal theme going on yet the titles give more of a sense of the group's playful way with music rather than any anthropomorphic undertones. The title track "Clockhead Goes to Camp" starts with a dextrous solo from Bennett, before he is joined by the rest of the group and the track develops into a wonderful interplay between the musicians.
In "Patience" there is, within one piece a mix of styles from a raucous drum rhythm to start, which conjures up late night scenes before the flute takes the tune and leads into a bewitching bass solo, segueing into a rock-like guitar section before morphing back into the gentle melody played on the flute by Bennett. "Paint The Fence" is a highlight with the flute's soaring and dipping in fervent playing sandwiched between gentle, lulling melody. Bennett's solo track "Sandpaper is necessary" shows his mastery of the saxophone and "John Lizard and Mr Pug" is, surprisingly, a waltz. The mesmerising "Cabin 12 Escapes Into The Night" has sax over echoing vocals which are just inaudible, making a confusing but oddly enchanting mix, especially where the vocals hit the same notes as the sax.
It is an album full of contrasts. Melodies start often as light, airy, floating ideas but develop depth and teeth as the musicians are led by Bennett, creating pieces of character and layers. It is easy to see why this tight combo are continuing to attract new fans and offers.
This album marks Daniel Bennett's coming, not just of age but as a player to be reckoned with. The Daniel Bennett group is one which will be hopefully around for a long time to come.
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
Daniel Bennett; alto saxophone, flute and clarinet: Mark Cocheo; guitar: Peter Brendler;
bass: Tyson Stubelek; drums.
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