Kenny Clarke was a jazz drummer and an early innovator of the BeBop style of drumming. As the house drummer at Minton's Playhouse in the early 1940s, he participated in the after hours jams that led to the birth of modern jazz. He is credited with creating the modern role of the ride cymbal as the primary timekeeper. Before, drummers kept time on the snare drum ("digging coal", Clarke called it) with heavy support from the bass drum. With Clarke time was played on the cymbal and the bass and snare were used more for punctuation. For this, "every drummer" Ed Thigpen said, "owes him a debt of gratitude." Clarke was nicknamed "Klook" or "Klook-mop" for the style he innovated.
His follow-up to Blowin' Like Hell burns with a ferocious intensity, particularly for his groundbreaking work on chromatic harp and his ability to cover all styles with remarkable elan. Again, he wrote most of the songs, and "Pawnshop Bound," "Trying to Stretch My Money," and "With a Tear in My Eye" are real songs. Instrumentals like "Chasin' the Gator" feature Clarke with Alex Schultz on lead guitar.
His fourth CD from Alligator is his jazziest and bluesist recording to date. Clarke has written half of the compositions and put his own sound and style on those he did not write. Highlights include "The Boss" (inspired by saxophonist Willis Jackson) which is a fast jump that finds chromatic harp riffing along with a horn section – some interesting ideas. Other tunes are the Benny Moten tune "Moten Swing," "My Mind is Working Overtime," (a Latin-tinged tune written by Clarke), and "Letter from Home".
2008 release of this '60s recording by the American Jazz drummer Kenny Clarke and Belgian pianist Francy Boland, leading one of the finest Jazz ensembles ever assembled outside of the U.S. Had it not been for the post-war migration of many top American Jazz musicians to Europe, it is quite likely that the legendary Clarke-Boland Big Band might never have come into existence. As it happened, when Gigi Campi set up the first Big Band record date in Cologne in 1961, he was able to call upon such distinguished self-exiled Jazz stars as Benny Bailey (originally from Cleveland, Ohio), Sahib Shihab (Savannah, Georgia), Jimmy Woode (Boston, Massachusetts) and, of course, Kenny Clarke (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania).
That this rare album was originally released only in Europe testifies to the dominance of jazz-rock in 1971 and not to the staggering quantity of imagination that one hears on the session today. Still co-leading his legendary European unit (this was their last recording), Francy Boland unleashed his classical training to produce dazzling, fantastically complex writing often loaded with dissonances, unusual groupings of instruments, freeform freakouts, alternating sections in 5/4 and 4/4, loose-jointed structures, and firestorm endings. Yet Getz's great ear picks everything up intuitively; his solos, though brief in playing time, are loaded with sometimes strident emotion and occasionally flirt with the outside…