H-Eddie excitement as bebop superstar comes to Canterbury

It’s not very often that a superstar of the international bebop world lands in Canterbury, but that’s what’s happening on Saturday 11 February, as Eddie Daniels plays with the David Rees-Williams Trio.

Reading Thomas Owens’ excellent Bebop: the music and its players, a survey of key figures in the bebop movement – Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie to name but two – recently, the writer makes the following observation:

In recordings such as To Bird with Love, [Daniels] combines an astonishing technical command of the instrument, a beautiful, warm tone quality over the entire range of the instrument, a great sense of swing, and a rich melodic imagination. He has proven repeatedly and conclusively that bebop can fit the clarinet; the only barrier to a flood of bebop clarinetists appearing may be the challenge of meeting Daniels’s awesome standards.

Daniels has been called a ‘thoroughly well-bred demon’ by none other than Leonard Bernstein; with an equal foothold in the world of jazz and classical music (Wynton Marsalis, anyone ?), Daniels has been a colossus since his early days with the Thad Jones band back in the 60’s. There’s a profile of Daniels over on that great jazz blog, LondonJazz.

Bebop remains, for me at least, one of the critical artistic movements of the twentieth century; witnessing the development of an harmonically more adventurous, and rhythmically more exploratory style, it  represented a move away from more traditional big band swing to a tighter, more focused style emphasising a richer inventiveness. Greater technical prowess was required to execute improvisation at break-neck speed: the almost instantaneous translation from harmonic and melodic thought to the physical execution of its ideas, at such speed, leading to some of the greatest recorded solos ever made. There was no room for error: a sure-footed way of working with a linear logic through the harmonic changes required a firm grasp of the underlying chords and their extensions, to allow ideas to unfold with such rapidity and yet stilll retain a melodic integrity. In the white heat of spontaneous creativity at a live gig, you had to know exactly what you were doing.

Tickets and details about the event on the Gulbenkian Theatre’s website here: one not to be missed.

And here’s a foretaste of Daniel’s terrific dexterity allied with a dazzling gift for melodic improvisation, on scintillating form in After You’ve Gone. Thomas Owens may have a point…

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