A visit to www.julianbliss.com will reveal that this young, British, classically trained clarinettist has had a longer association with jazz than one might assume. Aged six years he appeared on the Des O'Connor show duetting with Acker Bilk and even at that tender age signs of jazz intonation were apparent. Obviously in the intervening years the technique has improved as has the feel for jazz playing. For any player to tackle a selection of Benny Goodman's 'greatest hits' is a pretty daunting task in that it will provoke comparisons with the original performances but aided by six excellent colleagues and very good arrangements by Neal Thornton, Julian Bliss pulls it off, admirably.
There are certainly not copy performances though. Bliss places his own distinctive stamp on the familiar tunes and on at least two of the tracks his classical training adds to the performance. To see what I mean, listen in particular to Gordon Jenkins' Goodbye which also boasts tender duetting with the trumpet of Martin Shaw. On the faster numbers such as Avalon the ability to swing, an essential skill with this music, is admirably demonstrated. This track also features the guitar of Colin Oxley to great effect. All in all this is a very good jazz debut album from a very talented musician, ably supported. He's someone to watch in the future and on this evidence highly recommended.