James Danderfur is a brilliant clarinet player and tenor sax man who offers here his first studio album, a study of very interesting music. Here is some really nice mainstream jazz played with a full range of apparent improvisation, but also with precision. It is precise, thoughtful improvisation that creates a very smooth, soul-satisfying experience.
In extensive liner notes (a welcome addition), co-producer Cory Weeds describes Danderfer as patient and thoughtful, a man who doesn't waste notes. That clearly comes through in the music. The clarinet, as Weeds notes, is a bit of a funny instrument in jazz, but Danderfur knows just what to do with it. Depending on the tune, his lead is sweet, wistful, or striking and clarifying. His part always fits right into the piece, just as much as his sax playing. "Anthem for Piece," a tune by Quincy Davis, in particular shows the beauty of his clarinet work.
It's not all about him, though. This is a true band set, and Danderfur has surrounded himself with other top players. They all have lots of time and space to offer excellent contributions. Besides Davis, the set features Jodi Proznick on bass (listen for her on "Cafe & Beignet"), Chris Gestin, Brad Turner and Olly Gannon.
Except for a cover of "You Go To My Head," and the Quincy Davis number, all the other tunes are Danderfur originals. The CD has a classy, light, sophisticated sound appropriate for parties, relaxing, or just listening. Although it is a studio album, it has a very live feel and was released on the Cellar Live club label, since Weeds says he wouldn't have it any other way.