Live Jazz: Eddie Daniels at Vitello’s

By Tony Gieske

Vitello’s is beginning to feel like Bradley’s, especially on nights like last Friday and Saturday, when the great Eddie Daniels unfurled a grand old New York vibe that brought in half a dozen well known Hollywood jazz names to listen, rap, and drink.

Local stars Joe La Barbera, Tom Warrington and Tom Ranier provided a rhythm section with which Daniels was already comfortable, since drummer La Barbera and pianist Ranier often whip off to appear or record with Daniels in New York.

Daniels’ clarinet sound is exemplary, as everyone knows: throaty but not too throaty down low and mellow but not too mellow up top,  although a couple of piercing high notes got away from him on Friday.

Eddie Daniels

His execution was otherwise flawless no matter how resourcefully his imagination roamed, or how swift the tempo. He wooed the ear rather than wrestled it, daring, in this post-Coltrane world, to please…and even to elaborate on (get ready) the melody.

These elaborations distilled some of the history of jazz soloing, but they were also rolling along fun, kinda like riding down Broadway in a De Soto taxi with a New York girl beside you in the dark.

Fine old tunes took their rightful place, and they were well chosen. Sondheim’s “Pretty Women” was one, and so was another nostalgic classic that came close to “Gee, Baby, Ain’t I Good to You,” although I couldn’t think of its title. His own “Tango Nova” was written in anticipation of a visit to Buenos Aires, but with a tip of the hat to flying over Brazil.

“Falling in Love With Love” came out fleet and furious from Daniels’ tenor sax, the instrument he used to play with the great Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra on Monday nights at the Village Vanguard. That’s in New York.

Tom Ranier

Ranier enhanced the fun by echoing the high velocity Daniels clarinet improvisations on single finger piano, and sometimes added the octave.  La Barbera and Warrington kept up with the leader. Maybe he let ‘em get ahead from time to time or maybe they just did it.

Photos by Tony Gieske.  Read and see more of Tony’s jazz essays and photos at his personal web site

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