cadence | apr - may - june 2009
When we last heard (Vol. 33, #10-11-12, p. 241) from West Coast reedman Benn Clatworthy (1), he was caught in concert
in Van Nuys, California, in a quartet setting. Only upright bassist Chris Colangelo was on that date and the foursome performed a quite different version of the title tune, which apparently has been written for some time since that gig was in late 2006. Reviewer Dee Dee McNeil noted a distinct John Coltrane shadow hanging over Clatworthy’s tone and I will go along with that—to a certain extent. But there are touches of other sax giants also heard on this disc, most notably Rollins, the late Johnny Griffin, and even Rahsaan Roland Kirk when he concentrated on tenor only. In other words, Clatworthy has assimilated a large chunk of the reed tradition then personalized it before shaping the ideas and phrases that billow out his bell. Bassist Colangelo stalks him like his shadow in a dimly lit alleyway and Doyle listens with big ears to both. An intelligently diversified set list also helps move this album along with underdone Monk scripts, a John Lewis gem, a Kurt Weill and Cole Porter classic
each, two charts from Colangelo and five titles with the leader’s name in parentheses under them. Clatworthy moves from soprano to flute with ease but it is on the tenor model that he consistently makes his mark. This man can most assuredly hold his own against any East Coast tenorist I can think of. Lots of music to take note of herein.
1. Benn Clatworthy/Chris Colangelo/Ryan Doyle
By Bill Milkowski
Underrated British-born tenor saxophonist Benn Clatworthy flaunts his bold, Rollins-esque tone and free-spirited approach in a highly interactive trio setting with drummer Ryan Doyle and bassist Chris Colangelo. They turn in a rollicking calypso reading of John Lewis’ “Afternoon in Paris,” cop a sublime feel on Monk’s “Pannonica” and Cole Porter’s “I Get a Kick Out of You” before entering the free zone on Clatworthy’s open-ended title track. Other highlights include Clatworthy’s bluesy meditation “Sister Sarah” and a freewheeling interpretation of Gershwin’s “This Is New.”
Written by George Carroll
CD Review/The Decider/Benn Clatworthy
Reedman Benn Clatworthy is truly both a player and composer of note. I relegate my readers to his ''Bossa Mia'' with its attendantvigor and robustness.......Thus he creates an amalgam of power with his musical compositions. He can also play the ''American Songbook'' with a panache to be noted as well. Listen to his unusual version of ''Kick Out Of You,'' Last, there's an extreme senitivity in what Clatworthy's group delivers which is easy to assimilate plus, he plays his music with a interesting harmonic audacity & expressive declamation as well which is rarely seen in musical circles.
George W Carroll
The Musicians' Ombudsman
By John Gilbert
Benn Clatworthy (saxes, flute) Chris Colangelo (bass) Ryan Doyle (drums)
These cats have more chops than the Armour Packing Co. A few years ago at a now defunct jazz club, I was listening to Benn Clatworthy playing in his inimitable frenzied style and one of the keys flew off of the horn like a drunken moth, but Benn kept right on wailing without a pause and the crowd loved it. Chris Colangelo has always been a swinging, muscular type bassist, much in demand and rightly so.
"I Get A Kick Out Of You" Benn Clatworthy shows his ballad side on this lovely arrangement of Cole Porter's gem. Colangelo's bass is a study in passion. At times in this tune Clatworthy shows a Johnny Griffin like approach with little runs inside his not so subtle salute to the aforementioned Mr. Porter.
"This Is New" Kurt Weill's number is given a new life in this jaunty trip into a sax message that is reminiscent (again) of Johnny Griffin's frantic style but with Benn's stamp all over it. The saxophone solo will leave an intriguing impression on the ear of the discerning listener.
Chris Colangelo is a perfect match for Clatworthy's modish trips into jazz , and he (Cattworthy) manages to slip in a quote from "Surrey With The fringe On Top"
"Short Story" Arco time and Colangelo strokes that bass fiddle like a man whose passion is generated by a natural bent for the instrument.
This is an original by Chris Colangelo and is guaranteed to give one pause to reflect on just what went through his mind in penning this emotional piece. A short story indeed, but with a heavy dose of intense high wrought sensitivity.
This album is a showcase for Clattworthy and company in this excursion into contemporary jazz.
Benn Clatworthy, Chris Colangelo, Ryan Doyle - THE DECIDER: Benn's excellent soprano/tenor sax work, along with some sweet flute, is complimented very nicely by bass from Chris & drums by Ryan on this nicely recorded CD. He's been on the California scene for some many years now (since 1980), after migrating from England, and has played with names like Cedar Walton, Lary Gales & Lionel Hampton. Clatworthy copies no one else's style & has a unique and distinctive style that will be very attractive to any jazz fan worth their salt. You can catch a live recording of him at YOUTUBE (not the same players, but his sax work is still brilliant). The title track is the most introspective on the album, with some rich tones from his reeds, but I found "Patterns" (track 3) to be my favorite... each player gets to show their talent, and your ears will be delighted through all 6:58 minutes - but especially during Benn's outstanding solo! This one rates a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED without question, and will be a keeper for any jazz fan who loves exceptional reed work!
Benn Clatworthy - The Decider
2008, Benn Clatworthy
Benn Clatworthy is a Los Angeles-based saxophone impresario originally from England. He has a reputation for frantic and passionate saxophone and flute playing, and has shared a stage with the likes of Cedar Walton, Larry Gates and Lionel Hampton (among many others.) Clatworthy teams up with Chris Colangelo on bass and Ryan Doyle on drums for the delightfully melodic The Decider, a mix of alternate takes on jazz classics and some original material as well.
Clatworthy opens with John Lewis' Afternoon In Paris, giving it a Latin jazz flavor that may just improve on the original. Clatworthy starts out with a sense of economy that unravels into a coloratura waterfall of runs. Thelonius Monk's Off Minor gets similar treatment, where Clatworthy chats up the original melody before disenfranchising it in a shock and awe style sax explosion. The Decider receives similar treatment, starting out at parity with a melodic sentiment and quickly devolving into chaotic variations.
The Latin melancholy of Bossa Mia starts out as a lovely musical idea but quickly dissolves into the running off at the mouthpiece that Clatworthy favors. This trend holds up over most of the album, and in the end if comes down to what sort of jazz you're into. If you're a Miles Davis fan, or if you're a fan of newer jazz that is more concerned with technical proficiency and guitar-solo style instrumental solos, then Clatworthy is right up your alley. If your style of jazz concentrates more on melody and traditional forms, then The Decider probably isn't for you.