Eddie Daniels - tenor saxophone, flute; Clark Terry - flugelhorn; John Lewis - piano; George Duvivier - bass; Alan Dawson - drums
A ubiquitous figure at the 1977 Grande Parade du Jazz in Nice, France, saxophonist Eddie Daniels performed with the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra, the New York Repertory Big Band and was part of an all-star jam led by trumpeter Pee Wee Erwin and featuring trombonist Kai Winding, pianist Ray Bryant, bassist Major Holley and drummer Alan Dawson. On this night he also got a chance to lead his own all-star group featuring trumpeter Clark Terry, pianist John Lewis, bassist George Duvivier and drummer Alan Dawson. Together they ran through a set of standards that put the spotlight on each of the individual stellar soloists.
They open with a burning take on oft-covered "Broadway" featuring Daniels on tenor sax and Clark on trumpet. "Here's That Rainy Day" is a vehicle for Daniels' virtuosic flute work with delicate piano accompaniment by Modern Jazz Quartet founding member Lewis. Drummer Dawson provides sensitive, supple brushwork here, setting the subdued yet swinging tone. The beautiful Victor Young-Edward Heyman ballad "When I Fall in Love," a tune forever associate with Nat "King" Cole, is a feature for Thad's lyrical flugelhorn work while "'Round Midnight" is a solo for the masterful pianist Lewis. "Body and Soul" is an extended bass solo for Duvivier. Miles Davis' "The Theme," a traditional set-closer in the bebop community, is a showcase for Daniels' blazing tenor sax. At some point midway through, the band drops out, leaving him alone, way out on a limb. And Daniels responds with ferocious blowing and torrent of ideas. Terry follows with a muted trumpet solo that is equally compelling, concluding this potent set on an exhilarating note.
While he is primarily known today as a virtuoso clarinetist, Daniels spent the early part of his career on saxophone and flute. Born on October 19, 1941, in Brooklyn, he was drawn to jazz as a teenager and began playing alto saxophone at age 14. The following summer he played in Marshall Brown's Youth Band at the 1957 Newport Jazz Festival. In 1966, after graduating from Juilliard, where he earned a masters in clarinet, Daniels joined the ranks of the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra, performing every Monday night at the Village Vanguard. His spirited performance on the band's 1967 album Live at the Village Vanguard led to him being named Down Beat's New Star on Clarinet for that year. He continued playing with the Thad-Mel band through the '70s and subsequently became an in-demand session player on the New York scene, performing on flute, clarinet and saxophone on albums by pop stars like Billy Joel, Chaka Khan, Phoebe Snow, Gladys Knight, Angela Bofill, Bette Midler, Diana Ross and Carly Simon and jazz artists like Bob James, Billy Cobham, George Benson, Jimmy McGriff and Stanley Turrentine. Following a string of recordings as a leader, he drew international acclaim for his aptly titled 1986 outing on GRP Records, Breakthrough, a startling showcase of clarinet virtuosity in a classical setting. He followed with eight recordings for GRP through the '90s that established him as the preeminent clarinetist in jazz. His most recent recordings are 2007's two-CD set, Homecoming: Live at the Iridium, which has him doubling on clarinet and tenor sax, and 2009's A Duet of One. (Bill Milkowski)