Album reviews

Joe Traina – ‘Tip of the Hat’

Joe Traina – Tip of the Hat

(JTM 2020-1. Album review by Frank Griffith)

Not yet a subscriber of our Wednesday Breakfast Headlines?
Join the mailing list for a weekly roundup of Jazz News.


Clarinettist Joe Traina‘s CD Tip of the Hat elucidates his full and liquid clarinet tone along with his eloquent melodic readings of nine timeless standards. His coda of a minute’s worth of the cadenza from Artie Shaw’s Concerto for Clarinet completes this disc with aplomb.

Joe has worked extensively in the New York- New Jersey area since 1990. His groups have appeared at Iridium, Metronome,The Rainbow Room, Tavern on the Green and many other leading NYC venues. Born in Brooklyn and raised on Staten Island, Joe began on the clarinet in high school. “In 1990, I put my own band together when in Staten Island that summer.There was a small and vital jazz community there that I was lucky enough to frequent and be a
part of.”

The crack octet is comprised of NYC jazz stalwarts, including, Scott Wendholt (trumpet), John Allred (trombone), Dan Willis (tenor sax) and is buoyed by a rhythm team of Jeb Patton (piano), Mike Karn (bass) and Scott Neumann (drums). They fill in the blanks to great measure, with their individual solo voices singing, along with their ensemble blending artistry that offer many tips to this wondrous musical hat.

The arrangements were done by celebrated trombonist, vocalist and bandleader, Pete McGuinness. His guest vocal cameos on The Touch of Your Lips and Old Folks fully exhibit his cool, yet incisive vocal sensibility along with crafty and melodic scatting forays.

The four horns setting (trumpet, trombone, tenor sax and clarinet) provide the listener with a unique orchestrational palette. This can remind one of the kind of colours that Gil Evans achieved with the Claude Thornhill band and later with Miles Davis’ Birth of the Cool Nonet in the 1940s. As masterful clarinetist, Ken Peplowski, writes in the liner notes- “Great songs, great arrangements and great musicianship add up to a wonderful listening experience. Joe’s an incredibly gifted clarinetist and bandleader and I hope you all love this project as much as I did!”

I agree, and tip my hat to Joe and ensemble for this exemplary offering.

LINKS: Joe Traina hosts a regular podcast on Anchor FM

The album is avalable from

Leave a Reply