Louis. Another of Oliver’s talents lay in his understanding of structure: all of his bands were characterised by an ordered approach, even in freely improvised collective passages.
He is best remembered nowadays for his talent as an arranger, much of it acquired initially by studying the work of pioneer jazz arrangers such as Don Redman. His full flowering came in the 1930s, where his sleek but punchy charts were crucial to Benny Goodman’s most successful period and influenced all the great arrangers who emerged during the Swing Era.
Kenny wasn’t one of the great pioneers of jazz, but he was unquestionably one of the finest jazz clarinettists of the last 50 years and, while he could be charming, informative, irascible, entertaining, irritating, intelligent and sometimes utterly unreasonable (often all in the same sentence), he was always very humorous in a waspish way. His sudden death in December 2006 came out of the blue and robbed the jazz world of one of its finest players and greatest characters. My Blues for Kenny Davern is my attempt to pay my respects to a man I was privileged to count as a friend.