– Buddy De Franco Quartet w/Sonny Clark – live in Cologne, Germany – Jan. 22, 1954 –
Unlike many of his contemporaries, Buddy DeFranco, who was solidly part of the Big Band era, saw the writing on the wall with the change in direction Jazz was taking. And instead of refusing to go with the changes, De Franco embraced them and became one of a handful of Clarinetists who rose to fame as an active practitioner of Bop.
He began his professional career just as swing music and big bands—many of which were led by clarinetists like Artie Shaw, and Benny Goodman—were in decline. While most jazz clarinet players did not adapt to this change, DeFranco successfully continued to play clarinet exclusively, and was one of the few bebop clarinetists.
In 1950, DeFranco spent a year with Count Basie’s Septet. He then led a small combo in the early 1950s which included pianist Sonny Clark and guitarist Tal Farlow. In this period, DeFranco recorded for MGM, Norgran and Verve; the latter two labels were owned by Norman Granz.
Buddy DeFranco is joined on this concert with Eugene Wright on Bass and Bobby White on drums – and together with Clark, turn a few standards into Bop excursions, making this concert a memorable event.
As a leader, Clark recorded albums Dial “S” for Sonny (1957, Blue Note), Sonny’s Crib (1957, Blue Note), Sonny Clark Trio (1957, Blue Note), Cool Struttin’ (1958, Blue Note), Blues in the Night (1979, Blue Note, also released on Standards), and a second piano trio album titled Sonny Clark Trio (1960, Time Records).
Buddy DeFranco was active all the way up to his passing in 2014. Sonny Clark left us in 1963. Together they blazed new trails in the rapidly evolving world of Jazz in the 1950s and beyond.
Masters of the trade, without a doubt.
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