Release Year: 2015
- Temptation Rag
- Tennessee Waltz
- Old Folks At Home aka Swanee River
- Make Me A Pallet On The Floor
- Flee As A Bird
- Snake Rag
- Waltz For A Late Autumn
- What A Friend We Have In Jesus
- Tango Aleman
- Bugle Boy March aka American Solider
- Kevin Clark – Trumpet
- Tom McDermott – Piano
Reviewed In OffBeat
Brett Milano (Jazz Fest Bible 2015)
The wonder of a good jazz duet is that it can make you hear the most timeworn tunes in a different way. Prime example would be what pianist McDermott and trumpeter Clark do with “Swanee River/Old Folks at Home,” a song usually saddled with old-timey backporch associations.
But theirs jumps right along, with Clark doing some playful wah-wah effects with his mute, McDermott adding a strong bassline and taking a jaunty solo. Toward the end McDermott throws in a quote from “Camptown Races” and Clark answers it right back, a good example of their instinctive communication here.
Both players are well-versed in this material. McDermott was a Duke of Dixieland before going solo, and Clark is the current leader of that band. They work similar magic on “Tennessee Waltz”—which, for a change, is not done as a waltz and taken to Cuba instead of Tennessee. Likewise, McDermott puts the traditional “Make Me a Pallet on the Floor” into a James Booker-inspired boogie groove, and Clark finds the joy in a melody that’s usually lowdown and gritty.
“Bugle Boy March” is another tune that everybody knows—at least they know the military lick that kicks it off—and one that found its way into many early jazz bands’ repertoires. Their version is similarly loose and lively, suggesting how those 1910’s soldiers might have heard it when they got to Storyville on leave.
In contrast, the hymn “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” stays close to its church origins. Here Clark savors the original melody instead of messing much with it.
McDermott gets an elegant moment on his own classically-inspired piece, “Waltz for a Late Autumn,” and the pair does a stately funeral march on “Flee As a Bird.” The duo’s approach to these mostly-familiar pieces is respectful but not overly reverent, and full of unmistakable New Orleans ambiance.