The idea of a live album, in a club, in front of people, seems a little preposterous at the moment. But this is no curiosity and joins an illustrious line of albums recorded at New York club the Village Vanguard. Trigger alert: contains applause!
Pianist Clayton is with Logan Richardson on alto saxophone, Walter Smith III on tenor saxophone, Joe Sanders on bass, and Marcus Gilmore on drums.
The horns are beautifully voiced on 'Rejuvenation Agenda' (what an excellent piece of naming given current circumstances) one of four Clayton originals. A softly delivered 'Body and Soul' plus Ellington and Bud Powell classics are also on the record so it's a hearty mix of the new and the unknown.
It is the kind of record where high level virtuosity, and there is plenty of it, does not get in the way of spirit and the joy of performance. You also can't approach it as an example of one style or another. Some of the harmonies are very avant garde and yet the whole shape of the album seems to ride on the coat tails of the mainstream so I suppose fans from a number of styles within jazz will get what this is about. Above all there is a lot of life on the record. Gilmore, best known for his work with Vijay Iyer, contributes a great sense of attack and the record has the sort of rhythmic bite you need on a live record. Out now on Blue Note.