Clayton Brothers and Friends: The Gathering

If you have a finger on any part of the LA jazz scene’s pulse, you know that John Clayton is one of the major musical movers and shakers. Talent scout, producer, co-leader of a big band and small group (right here, thank you), he’s guaranteed to be on some recording that you are in possession (Think Diana Krall). The big band doesn’t get around as much anymore, but his hip combo of family members Jeff Clayton/as-fl, John Clayton/p and friends Terell Stafford/tp-fh, Obed Calvaire/dr more than keeps you satisfied. This latest release includes a perfect mix of bop, blues and ballads and with the extra textures of guests Wycliffe Gordon/tb and Stefon  Harris/vibes, the sounds get an extra dash of flavor.

 A tricky and clever hard bopper like “Tsunami” shows the family members at their best, coaxing each other on with some impressive blowing, picking and comping. A take of “Don’t Explain” is agonizingly beautiful, with a subtle voice of the three brothers introducing the melody in a haunting fashion. Gerald’s alto is gorgeously played out on the aria “Souvenier,” while the addition of Harris and Gordon on “Stefon Fetchin’ It” and “The Happiest of Times” make the sound fuller, richer and a bit more bouncy. Harris’ work on the moody “Touch the Fog” weaves in and out of Gerald’s flute like a wind through the wheat fields, while Wycliffe gets the joint jumping on a rousing “This Aint’ Nothing’ But A Party.”  Wondrously happy and happenin’ sounds from a band that lives the life of Family Values.

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