Sunday, December 23, 2012

Klook Meets the Detroit Jazzmen

Kenny "Klook" Clarke's job as a drummer was, more or less, "establishing a pulse that both band and listener could feel as well as hear," (Joop Visser) and in the first half of the 1950s that pulse became the driving force of many Savoy recordings. Like that legendary rhythm section of Red Garland/Paul Chambers/Philly Joe Jones, the master drummer of bebop, Kenny Clarke, formed a super unit of the first rate musicians for the Savoy label, mostly consisted of Hank Jones on piano and Wendell Marshall on bass. Aside from their accompanying job, the classic Hank Jones Trio LP was an output of the auspicious collaboration. Other groups benefited from the Savoy rhythmic section were Eddie Bert Quartet, Nat Adderley Quintet, Joe Wilder Quartet and Milt Jackson Quintet; all classics of the post-bop era. Also It happened many times that Jones or Marshall were not available, so Klook teamed up with other rhythm suppliers, some of them as good as the absent gentlemen.

Occasionally, between endless sessions which sometimes lasted for 20 hours per day, Klook found time to record albums under his own name. His leadership materialized the famous LP, Bohemia After Dark and some other Savoy outputs. His last date for Savoy, as leader, was composed of, if in not Detroit-born, but the Detroit-raised musicians of extremely high caliber which was named KC Meets the Detroit Jazzmen.

Here, as a Christmas special, I've digitized two sides of the aforementioned LP for your listening and pleasure. The album, in its original form, is rather difficult to find, or expensive if you catch a copy on the online venues. However, the Proper label, in the UK, has done a reissue of this, along with many other Klook's recordings, on four discs. The price of this Proper box is incredibly cheap, and the quality, like most of the Proper releases, good enough to make it an essential buy. A thick booklet, with historical, discographical and autobiographical facts make it even more precious as a reliable Kenny Clarke resource.

As for the recording, there is hardly anything to add, except reminding the relaxed, laid-back mood which is evident from the very beginning and delivered by the opening bars of Tommy Flanagan, then carried on by the greatest post-Carney baritone sax player of jazz, Pepper Adams. They all play economically and Klook rarely takes solos. While elements of swing is guaranteed in the brilliant work of Flanagan, Pepper and Burrell, none of them make it an extreme case of improvisation and the whole set finishes before anything wild happens - still it is quite satisfactory, and generally, the elegance and mirthfulness of the album remain intact.

See you next year.

Kenny Clarke Meets the Detroit Jazzmen
Savoy Records 12083/RCA Records Wl70515
Pepper Adams/Tommy Flanagan/Kenny Burrell/Paul Chambers/Kenny Clarke

1-You Turned The Tables On Me (Mitchell-Alter)
2-Your Host (K. Burrell)
3-Cottontail (D. Ellington)
4-Apothegm (Park Adams)
5-Tricotism (O.Pettiford)
6-Afternoon In Paris (John Lewis)
7-Tom’s Thumb (Tommy Flanagan)
Total Time: 37:05

Session discography from

Kenny Clarke Quintet
Pepper Adams (bars -1,3/5) Tommy Flanagan (p -1,3/5) Kenny Burrell (g) Paul Chambers (b -1,3/5) Kenny Clarke (d)
NYC, April 30, 1956
1. 69191    Cotton Tail    Savoy MG 12083, SJL 1111
2. 69192    Not For Me    unissued
3. 69193    Your Host    Savoy MG 12083, SJL 1111
4. 69194    Tricotism    Savoy SJL 1111
5. 69195    Tom's Thumb    Savoy MG 12083, SJL 1111
* Savoy MG 12083   Various Artists - Jazzmen Detroit
* Savoy SJL 1111   Kenny Clarke Meets The Detroit Jazzmen

Kenny Clarke Quintet
Pepper Adams (bars) Tommy Flanagan (p) Kenny Burrell (g) Paul Chambers (b) Kenny Clarke (d)
NYC, May 9, 1956
69204 You Turned The Tables On Me    Savoy MG 12083, SJL 1111
69205 Afternoon In Paris    -
69206 Apothegh    -
* Savoy MG 12083 Various Artists - Jazzmen Detroit
* Savoy SJL 1111   Kenny Clarke Meets The Detroit Jazzmen

[disclaimer: This recording, according to the European laws, is now in public domain. However its presentation here has solely taken place for educational and research purposes and no commercial interest, of any kind, is intended.]


  1. Overlooked masterpiece. In yhe first 'savoy' cd edition has some of the best dounds overall I ever heard from a '50s jazz recording