Veritably weaned on jazz music from the likes of Benny Goodman, Louis Armstrong, and Nat King Cole, clarinet player Daniel McBrearty gravitated to the solace he found in the music while growing up in Wales, England. Making his living as a music engineer, McBrearty moved to Belgium in 2001 but didn’t play in jazz circles until 2011 when he made a trip to New Orleans. The experience gave him the impetus to record Clarinet Swing, his self-released debut effort in jazz featuring Dirk Van der Linden on piano and Jean Van Lint on acoustic bass. The recording is a homage to his love of blues-swing-bebop-jazz hybrids comprised of covers written by jazz music’s predecessors and interspersed with a few original tracks written by McBrearty.
The duo of McBrearty’s clarinet and Linden’s piano in their cover of Ray Hubbell’s tune “Poor Butterfly” hoist balladry swells that complement the instruments tones, moving into the upbeat swing tempo of McBrearty’s original work “March of the Bluestones” adding a bebop schema in Lint’s bass. The track is a tribute to McBrearty’s dad, inspired by the bluestones used to make part of Stonehenge which his father loved. The Fats Waller tune “Jitterbug Waltz” is another duet with McBrearty and Linden showcasing the elasticity of the clarinet and the elegance of the piano keys. “Vikanda” is an original piece by McBrearty dedicated to his friend by that name. The parallel passages of the piano and clarinet have an underlying glint of peace over the prevailing solemn threads pulsating through the wistful phrasing of Lint’s bass.
“A Swing for Paolo” is another of McBrearty’s originals dedicated to guitarist Paolo Radoni and features a prancing gait in the bebop forms of the bass and the nimble movements of the keys. The trio’s rendition of Louis Armstrong’s staple “Body and Soul” highlights the graceful lines of the clarinet’s melody silhouette by the candlelight-imbued motifs of the keys. “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend” made famous by Marilyn Monroe when she sang it in the film How To Marry A Millionaire illustrates the trio’s enthusiasm for swinging romps, and demonstrate their affinity for amorous moods in “When I Grow Too Old to Dream” featuring McBrearty on vocals. The album closes with the torchlight embers of “Skylark” penned by swing impresario Hoagy Carmichael.
Clarinet Swing combines nostalgia with modern jazz to make for an album that illustrates the heartland sound widely stoked in the streets of New Orleans. McBrearty has come full circle playing the music that nurtured him and sparked his desire to make melodies on clarinet.
Daniel McBrearty – clarinet, Dirk Van der Linden – piano, and Jean Van Lint – bass
Poor Butterfly, March of the Bluestones, Jitterbug Waltz, Vikanda, A Swing for Paolo, Body and Soul, Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend, When I Grow Too Old to Dream, Skylark