The Clayton Brothers

The Clayton Brothers

Siblingity

Qwest/Warner Brothers

While the cover of Siblingity proclaims it to be “the art of swing by the Clayton Brothers,” do not be dispelled by the harrowing possibility that the album is another mindless collection of clunky tunes about martinis and the four-step. The Clayton Brothers have studied their jazz predecessors well, and the original compositions composed within their quintet are so beautifully and skillfully crafted that they could be confused with the legends themselves.

This is not “swing.” Siblingity is a portrayal of, amongst other things, a style of jazz that emerged in the ’50s as a reactionary movement against the improvisational stifling of swing — it’s called bebop. It’s fast-paced and played in small groups for those who appreciate solos, which the members of Siblingity cake on with the proficiency of Charlie Parker. Occasionally funky, pianist Bill Cunliffe creates a texture similar to Herbie Hancock or Horace Silver — for which their tune “Silver Worth Gold” is an homage to, and starts out with Silver’s “Filthy McNasty” — and he can solo with the character of Thelonious Monk. The quintet slows it down occasionally for a smoky, relaxed groove, but their strength lies in their catchy themes and healthy, often fiery improvising. Jazz that takes themselves from a tribute to carrying the proverbial torch, Jeff and John Clayton — alto sax and bassist, respectively — know damn well how to play their jazz. It may not be swing, but it sure is swinging.

Qwest Records, 3300 Warner Blvd., Burbank, CA 91505; http://www.johnclaytonjazz.com

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