As bassist John Clayton tells it, over the years he has played with a variety of great musicians, many of whom he would like to have worked with in “a duo setting,” something relaxed and fairly informal. Two musical friends would get together and see what happens. This, he says, has been an “ongoing dream.”
Now thanks to ArtistShare, the dream is a reality. Parlor Series, Vol. 1 is ready for prime time. It is the first in a projected series of albums that will eventually include previously recorded sessions with the late pianists Hank Jones and Mulgrew Miller. The bassist keeps things in the family for this inaugural effort. It is son Gerald who gets the starting nod, and the close family affinity doesn’t hurt. The father-son connection works to create some real magic. They put together a straight-ahead jazz set that is both melodic and imaginative, but above all, highly listenable.
The eight-tune program has a nice variety. They begin with a classic, Howard Dietz and Arthur Schwartz’s 1932 tune “Alone Together.” Other standards on the album include “If I Should Lose You,” “Yesterdays” and a version of “All the Things You Are” that Clayton describes as “both of us being free—taking it out, where you want, whatever you’re feeling in the moment.” They also do a swinging take on Duke Ellington’s “Isfahan.”
Add a sensitive spiritual reading of Billy Joel’s “And So It Goes,” a perfect ballad for the piano, bass combination, an Antonio Carlos Jobim bossa nova, “Zingaro,” and a Clayton original “Sunny Day Go” and they have put together a refreshingly varied program with plenty of opportunity for exploration. This is a fine start for the Clayton project, and it promises well for future releases. If they are as good as this, keep them coming.
The album is available from ArtistShare, where there is also a short video in which Clayton describes the Parlor Series project.