Alvin Batiste

Late

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Alvin Batiste has spent much of his career as an educator so he tends to get overlooked when one thinks of the top jazz clarinetists. He has a conventional and pleasing tone that he utilizes to improvise in an unusual and harmonically advanced style. Most of this CD teams the avant-gardist with a bop-based trio led by Kenny Barron and the clarinetist is constantly bending the material. The well-paced set (only a dumb modal version of "The Saints" is a disappointment) has among its highpoints a slow atmospheric New Orleans blues ("Late"), a relative of Coltrane's "Giant Steps" ("Imp and Perry"), a Ray Charles lick ("Ray's Segue") and the lengthy vamp-filled "Kinshasa." It's a strong introduction to the rarely recorded clarinetist.

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