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Don Wolff, our generous benefactor, has offered these performances by Kenny Davern’s favorite quartet from a 2004 New Jersey Jazz Society concert.
Half of this quartet — Kenny and his favorite drummer, Tony DiNicola — are gone. Happily, guitarist James Chirillo and bassist Greg Cohen are very much on the scene.
These performances mix intensity and lightness, and although I’ve sometimes thought that Davern, at this stage of his career, was more concerned with polishing his craft than taking risks, I realize that such hair-splitting is meaningless when faced with such music and the void Kenny left when he died. The discussion between those who privilege the “art” of improvisation and the “craft” of perfecting your approach to a particular song seems less important than the result.
Those of us who saw and admired Kenny — whether on clarinet, soprano saxophone, baritone or even bass sax — will find themselves caught up in his particular ethos immediately. If you never had the chance to see and hear this irreplaceable man, here he is, with his most noble friends:
I’M SORRY I MADE YOU CRY:
WILD MAN BLUES:
AM I BLUE?:
BEALE STREET BLUES: