Buck Clayton Legacy Band – Claytonia
(BCLB001. CD Review by Kai Hoffman)
What comes across immediately on ‘Claytonia’ is the gorgeously unified, wonderfully rich sound that the Buck Clayton Legacy Band produces – a warm, rounded quality created by the beautiful blend between the horns and the rhythm section. The gorgeous tone of the saxes and beautiful bell-like roundness of the brass shines out across the whole album, which was recorded live and lovingly produced by Keith Loxam.
Having enjoyed the album over and over again, it’s been challenging to pick out individual tracks to mention: they’re all really swingin’, with plenty of energy, and loads of fantastic ensemble playing on the tutti sections of Matthias Seuffert’s charts. The fantastic sound quality (especially for a live recording!) is particularly in evidence on medium-tempo “I’ll Make Believe”, with its melody and answering counterpoint lines, whilst the descending lines and drum interjections of “Party Time” have that wonderful, toe-tapping feel-good factor you can only get from an expertly played swing tune.
The evocative, cinematographic sound of “Horn of Plenty” had me thinking of film scenes – perhaps in a 1930s Chinese nightclub of Buck Clayton’s younger days, with lovers, dancers and lots of long, sideways glances at the camera coming out loud and clear in the music. The rich, easy swing of the title track “Claytonia” is such a rare feel to hear performed these days, and so mellow – like a smooth chocolate mousse you can savour spoonful by slow, melting spoonful – it can do nothing but bring a sweet smile to the listener’s lips. The soloing across the whole album is brilliant, but on the last track, “Sir Humphrey”, I particularly appreciated hearing Menno Daams and Ian Smith trading off on the trumpets, Adrian Fry’s energetic lines and also Norman Emberson’s driving, energetic drum solo – a great finale.
This live album includes a wonderful selection of Buck Clayton’s finest tunes, energetically performed, with plenty of variety from song to song. Playing swing is an art and these gentlemen are some of today’s masters – a very fitting legacy for Buck Clayton’s music. Swing perfection!