Album Review: Ten Tunes by Bill Barner

Bill Barner
Ten Tunes

Cheery and relaxing, clarinet player Bill Barner traverses through a myriad of melodic patterns including soul, funk, blues, bebop, fusion, and free style jazz on his new CD, Ten Tunes. Fusing European and American elements, Barner’s combos are melodically-bound ribbed in tendrils of improvisation. He endeavors to show that the clarinet is a versatile instrument able to enrich melodic textures and adapt to a wide scope of genres.

The gradual elevations made along “Flying Monkeys” have a bebop aura, shifting into the Latin flavored hooks etched across “Charm Offensive” ferried on a chassis of dance beats. The soul/funk overtones of “Opening Gambit” and “Wide Stance Dance” change the landscape of the album moving into a clubroom vibe, whereas the gentle curls of “Barbaro” have a pensive gait. The buoyant grooves of “Squeaky Rico” are fringed in bebop-oriented ruffles rendered by Barner’s clarinet transitioning into a middle eastern accent in “Connecting Dots” assisted by the jiggling beats of the percussions. “Toddler Dance” is poised with a humorous tint procured by the twisting lines of Barner’s clarinet, while bolstering sophisticated lines along “A War of Words.” The elastic guitar strings ruminating across “Palmas” are helmed by the improvisational glides and lifts of Stan Smith supported by bassist Roger Hines and drummer Danny Aguiar.

Born in Mississippi and raised in Northern California, Bill Barner has performed in jazz bands and orchestras, all influences shown in his compositions. Relocating to Northern Virginia, Barner veered towards the experimental side of jazz combos and has enjoyed a long run in such outfits as Some Like It Hot, Night and Day, and Difficult Run Jazz Band which all perform regularly in the Washington, D.C./Northern Virginia/Maryland metro area. Melodically pruned and judiciously interspersed with improvisational input, Ten Tunes contemporizes bebop incisions and makes them relatable to a current generation of jazz fans.

Bill Barner – clarinet, Stan Smith – guitar, Roger Hines – bass, and Danny Aguiar – drums

Opening Gambit, Flying Monkeys, Charm Offensive, Wide Stance Dance, Barbaro, Squeaky Rico, Connecting Dots, Toddler Dance, A War Of Words, Palmas

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