Eddie Daniel’s latest CD, Mean What You Say, matches Daniels with a cream of the crop rhythm section: Hank Jones on piano, Richard Davis on bass, and Kenny Washington on drums. Eddie has been out of the jazz limelight for some time since leaving the East Coast for New Mexico 15 years ago. Primarily known for his clarinet playing, Eddie plays tenor sax on this IPO release as well.
The title track is a Thad Jones composition that Daniels played in the 1960s while a member of the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Big Band on their regular gigs at the Village Vanguard, and here Eddie has the chance to play Thad’s tune, with Thad’s brother, the incomparable Hank Jones. Following this track, Eddie plays a swinging clarinet on the chestnut, It Had to Be You, accompanied by Jones – whose economical playing is such a pleasure as Hank never tries to showboat, playing simply the RIGHT accompaniment at all times.
Billy Strayhorn’s classic, Passion Flower, is a lovely feature for Eddie as he softly plays the clarinet melody, bringing to mind an Ellington arrangement with Daniels playing the Johnny Hodges sensuous role. More standards follow such as Nagasaki played double time by Daniels with Jones having a classic stride piano riff, and Kenny Washington doing brush duty on drums.
My One and Only Love is probably Daniels’ best feature on tenor sax. He plays with both urgency and soulfulness, and Jones has a hip statement to make as well on this track. Daniels, however, gets most of the 7:22 track time to himself. A joint Jones/Daniels composition, Why You? is a playful number with Hank and Eddie sharing the 16 bar theme. The Touch of Your Lips is a highlight of the CD with Daniels and Jones matching each other phrase for phrase. Other notable tracks include the Rollins’ influenced You and the Night and the Music, and How Deep Is the Ocean, both taken at a cooking pace.
Recorded in 96 kHz sampling and 24 bit resolution at the Clinton Recording Studio, this CD earns its Hi Res designation. [Not really – it’s still a 44.1/16 CD…Ed.] Even with moderately-priced Sony MDR-V6 headphones, Daniels’ clarinet shines with a sheen that is a treat to the ears.
— Jeff Krow