The Gathering

I’m old enough to remember when music like what the Clayton Brothers are making on this album was just about the coolest sound around, when post-bop jazz in this vein was regularly issued by labels like Blue Note and Verve, where groups like Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers or Cannonball and Nat Adderley were making soulful and joyful noises along these lines. The two Clayton brothers (Jeff and John, sax and bass) and John’s son, Gerald (piano), are joined by Terrell Stafford on trumpet, Obed Clavaire on drums, as well as guests Wycliffe Gordon on trombone and Stefon Harris on vibes, and the band just kicks ass on these 12 songs. This is no nostalgia run, however. These guys demonstrate with authority that the creative vitality of this genre is as alive as it was back in its day. For those interested in exploring the style, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to start with this album, then work backward through its sources. Start with the Clayton Brothers great take on “Don’t Explain,” then trace back to the Billy Holiday version. Or check out “Stefon Fetchin’ It,” then hip yourself to the humor, both in the music and its title. Cool back in the day, maybe even cooler now.