One complaint about post-bop jazz is that it just isn't any fun. Where's the melody? What happened to the great standards? And what happened to jazz's connection with its sister genre, the blues? Perhaps such complaints help explain the resurgence of more traditionally based jazz players in the last 30 years or so. The Kenny Davern Quartet perfectly juxtaposes just what jazz has lost in the post-bop, free jazz, and fusion eras. Clarinetist Davern, by his very choice of instruments, is old fashion, and his choice of material by W.C. Handy, Ma Rainey, and others deepens this impression on In Concert at the Outpost Performance Space. He's joined by guitarist James Chirillo, bassist Greg Cohen, and drummer Tony DeNicola for an hour-long set featuring eight pieces. This band can play it nice and easy, as on "These Foolish Things," but things really get interesting when they cut loose on a nine-minute version of "C.C. Rider." With a strong hint of the blues and plenty of swing, the quartet turns in a nice, loose version of this classic. Davern's melodic tone and solos here and elsewhere are the perfect match for Chirillo's playfully intense guitar work. Most of the pieces run between eight and ten minutes, but the Davern Quartet is never dull. In Concert at the Outpost Performance Space is the kind of live album that makes one believe "live is best," and will be a real boon to Davern and traditional jazz fans.
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AllMusic Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.