Buddy de Franco (AMSC 11345) contains four albums from the early fifties by the great modern jazz clarinettist, who managed to achieve prominence on his instrument despite the decline in its popularity. The self-titled “Buddy de Franco” dates from early and mid-1952, with Kenny Drew on piano throughout, Jimmy Raney present on guitar, Teddy Kotick on bass and Art Taylor on drums for the earlier sessions, and Curly Russell on bass and Art Blakey on drums for the later one. Tracks average out around three minutes apiece, whereas on “Mr. Clarinet” from April 1953, with Kenny Drew, Milt Hinton and Art Blakey, they vary between three and nine minutes. Both “Pretty Moods” from April 1954 and “The Artistry of Buddy de Franco ” from that August have Sonny Clark on piano, Gene Wright on bass and Bobby White on drums. Two tracks from the album “Jazz Tones” complete the compilation. Buddy de Franco had a prodigious technique, and superb control throughout the register. He’d had extensive experience as a saxophonist with the big bands of Gene Krupa, Charlie Barnet and Tommy Dorsey, but it was his work as leader on clarinet of these small-group sessions that established his reputation. All praise to Avid for making them so readily available.
Such a wonderful clarinet sound captured on all these LPs that is the artistry of Buddy De Franco...his playing is melodic and well suited to a wide audience. You hear many standards and will have a relaxing time listening to these CDs. Great value from Avid. The 2 earlier reviewers wrap it all up perfectly.
Boniface Ferdinand Leonard ("Buddy") DeFranco has for some reason not received the wider public acclaim and affection that his technique and his jazz playing ability fully deserve. Those already familiar with his work will want this set if they do not yet have the 4 albums that appear here. For the uninitiated, this is a good place to start, with fine playing from Buddy across 4 early albums, and with some fine work from others too - especially pianist Sonny Clark who appears on 2 of the 4 albums.
As a frustrated semi-pro musician (clarinet and sax) since the mid 1940's I have been aspiring to play like Buddy. This CD confirms why it has taken more than 60 years to get no-where near his abilities - it carries some of the finest bop clari playing anywhere on earth. Superb!