The Library Of Congress is a repository for important cultural artifacts, so it seems only fitting that it should serve as the stage for a duo recital from two of jazz's greatest treasures. Clarinetist Eddie Daniels
and pianist Roger Kellaway
have built their individual careers and reputations as genre-blind artists with near-unmatched technical prowess on their respective instruments, making them ideally suited as duo partners.
Daniels' place in jazz history was sealed when he joined up with the Thad Jones
Orchestra as the group came into being in the mid-'60s, but his career pathwhich has involved straight-ahead outings, soundtrack recordings, session work with artists like Paul Simon
, Chaka Khan
, and Billy Joel, and solo albums that blur genre lineshas never been limited to jazz. In fact, Daniels is one of only a handful of artists who are equally respected on both sides of the classical-jazz divide.
Kellaway, in similar fashion, is recognized as a giant-sized talent that can't be bound by any category. He served as Bobby Darin
's musical director in the late '60s, participated in sessions with artists like Wes Montgomery
, Sonny Rollins
, and Ben Webster
, wrote music for the New York Philharmonic, New York City Ballet, and Los Angeles Philharmoniceven finding time to make the occasional leader date to show off his dazzling chops and engaging compositions.
While both men came together for Daniels' Memos From Paradise
(GRP, 1988), their partnership really blossomed two decades later when they became label mates and joined forces for A Duet Of One
(IPO, 2009). Now, two years later, they've reunited for an even more impressive set. While both albums paint this pair as a twosome with limitless imagination and skill, capable of shifting gears with ease and willing to go wherever the music takes them, this set has the slight edge, with its crowd-pleasing repertoire ("America The Beautiful," "Somewhere"), ease in musical conversation, and the occasional playful moment that helps make this a meeting for the ages.
The pair mixes impressionistic tendencies and rhapsodic ideals with more conventional notions on the show-opening "Strike Up The Band," which also highlights Daniels' puckish wit, but that's only the beginning. Elsewhere, they touch on Thelonious Monk
in lighthearted fashion ("Rhythm-a-ning"), have a brief dalliance with the unknown before launching into a thrilling run-through of "Just Friends," and deliver a touching rendition of Kellaway's "A Place That You Want To Call Home."
While it seems that no combination or style has been left untried in jazz, clarinet-piano combinations are truly rare, and this one may well set the standard for those that follow.