Antoinette Music 2015
Back to jazz basics: further elemental explorations from the BS&T force of nature.
For lesser mortals, doing standards may be a last resort when their creativity runs dry, yet it’s an adventure for this Woodstock veteran who has been lately distilling the styles congealed into his easily recognizable manner. Following "Soul Ballads" with a live-in-the-studio run-through time-tested pieces, Clayton-Thomas set the bar extremely high but rose to the challenge elegantly, if not without his usual aplomb.
It takes a lot of guts and imagination to sculpt a truly memorable take on “Summertime,” given a velvet swing here, yet David goes further than that by dusting off “God Bless The Child” and turning the classic – one he lent his vigor to with BLOOD, SWEAT & TEARS – into the equally exhilarating, and brilliantly elevated instrumental-wise, plea. The singer briefly bares his teeth for a roar when it comes to “Stormy Monday Blues,” flowing on a Hammond wave and soaring on a sax wail, but his grip of the voice and the mood is most impressive on “Nature Boy” that, set against Ted Quinlan’s guitar ripple, infuses the fondling of mellifluous notes with mellow anxiety.
This seductive softness marks the relaxed reading of “As Time Goes By” which glides in on Mark Kieswetter’s ruminative grand piano, but while its bliss is gently punctured by George Koller’s bass, swelling up to solo, the bottom end gets shaken in the lively brooding bossa nova of “September Song.” In such a playful mode, David reaches for the higher ground on “Freedom For The Stallion” where Jackie Richardson joins him, and engages Genevieve Marentette in a graceful dialogue for “The Glory Of Love” before their vocals’ confluence lifts the chorus.
There’s deceptive simplicity to the glimmering “Stardust” – bleary-eyed, if peering into the listener’s psyche – and the warm pining to the fine fatigue of “When I Fall In Love,” although it’s the rumble underneath “Smile” that brings delight to this emotional dusk. The tempo quickens, as does heartbeat, and by the album’s end the sensation of witnessing a wonder descends, as befits a master and his ensemble in their element.