Eddie Daniels: Soul Eyes
Eddie Daniels (clarinet)
Nepenthe (GRP 9607)
Composed by Mal Waldron.
Recorded: New York City, Dec. 6, 7, & 9, 1989
Rating: 100/100 (learn more)
Daniels' series of albums for GRP in the '80's and '90's, beginning with the aptly titled Breakthrough, made his reputation as one of the truly great jazz clarinetists of all time. While the content of these releases ran the gamut from bop to fusion, classical to swing, and pop to new age, there was almost always enough substance in Daniels' virtuoso playing alone for even the most discerning and unwavering jazz fan to enjoy.
Daniels' Nepenthe CD has a somewhat "contemporary jazz" gloss to much of it, but the clarinetist still delivers a memorable version of Mal Waldron's classic "Soul Eyes," one of those timeless ballads that—like "How Deep is the Ocean," "'Round Midnight," or "Angel Eyes"—jazz musicians never tire of interpreting, and audiences always love to hear. After a shimmering strum from Loeb's guitar, Daniels renders the theme primarily in the chalumeau register, playing with great tenderness and sensitivity, as well as with remarkable technique. Daniels further embellishes the theme as the tempo picks up, while also dramatically entering the upper register for the first time with breathtaking aplomb. His solo employs riffs, repeating circular phrases, bluesy inflections, and enlivening interval leaps, as he also maneuvers his tone from pure warmth to keening outcry. Daniels' replay of the theme is a slow motion gem, complete with an endearingly fluttering bird-like coda. This is simply a perfect track.
Reviewer: Scott Albin