Move over Eddie Daniels we have a new shooter on the jazz clarinet front and his name is Julian Bliss. The Julian Bliss Septet and A Tribute To Benny Goodman celebrates not only the virtuoso pioneer of American swing music but captures the vibrant joy of a simple unadorned melody played with feeling and conviction.
The idea for the Septet originated in 2010 with the help of pianist Neal Thornton and thanks to patience not to mention some good ol' fashioned wood shedding we have what could arguably be considered the finest Goodman tribute recording and swing band working today. With tunes that range from "Stompin' At The Savoy" to "Moonglow" the Julian Bliss Septet covers the essential Goodman discography and does so with great care and respect. Other composers covered on tunes closely associated with the Goodman band include Hoagy Carmichael's "Up A Lazy River" and the Jimmy Van Heusen/Johnny Burke tune "Here's That Rainy Day."
Bliss plays with a light hearted approach and with the finesse of a surgeon as does the entire ensemble. What is remarkable about the talent of Bliss is that as a player firmly established on the international concert scene as a "serious" classical artist there seems to be an effortless transformation from classical to jazz without the "stiffness" that has accompanied some artists that have tried to make this jump and failed. Of course no review is complete without a decent back story and in 2007 Julian was invited by Conn Selmer to design a range of affordable clarinets bearing his name. The Bliss range of clarinets is taking off world wide and have received a great deal of praise. From classical to jazz to making music affordable for the next generation, Julian Bliss and his Septet certainly have earned their five stars!
Tracks: Don't Be That Way/Stompin' At The Savoy; Caprice No. 24; Up A Lazy River; The World Is Waiting For The Sunrise; Moonglow; Lady Be Good (Rifftide); Seven Come Eleven; Here's That Rainy Day; Sheik Of Araby; Goodbye; Avalon; Soft Winds; After You've Gone.
Personnel: Julian Bliss: clarinet; Neal Thornton: piano; Jim Hart: vibes; Martin Shaw: trumpet; Colin Oxley: guitar; Tim Thornton: bass; Matt Skelton: drums.