Kenny Clarke – Same (Telefunken Blues) (1955)

OriginalFrontCover1Kenneth Clarke Spearman (January 9, 1914 – January 26, 1985), nicknamed Klook, was an American jazz drummer and bandleader. A major innovator of the bebop style of drumming, he pioneered the use of the Ride cymbal to keep time rather than the hi-hat, along with the use of the bass drum for irregular accents (“dropping bombs”).

Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, he was orphaned at the age of about five and began playing the drums when he was eight or nine on the urging of a teacher at his orphanage. Turning professional in 1931 at the age of seventeen, he moved to New York City in 1935 when he began to establish his drumming style and reputation. As the house drummer at Minton’s Playhouse in the early 1940s, he participated in the after-hours jams that led to the birth of bebop. After military service in the US and Europe between 1943 and 1946, he returned to New York, but from 1948 to 1951 he was mostly based in Paris. He stayed in New York between 1951 and 1956, performing with the Modern Jazz Quartet and playing on early Miles Davis recordings. He then moved permanently to Paris, where he performed and recorded with European and visiting American musicians and co-led the Kenny Clarke/Francy Boland Big Band between 1961 and 1972. He continued to perform and record until the month before he died of a heart attack in January 1985.

Telefunken Blues is an album led by jazz drummer Kenny Clarke recorded in late 1954 and early 1955 and first released on the Savoy label. (wikipedia)


Everyone’s in good form on these two sessions from the mid-’50s. The earlier 1954 set, though, is the more interesting. It teams Modern Jazz Quartet alumni Kenny Clarke, Milt Jackson, and Percy Heath with West Coast beboppers Frank Morgan, Walter Benton, and Gerald Wiggins. Jackson’s spirited solos and strong presence in the ensembles make clear he is enjoying a change of pace from the austere formalism of the MJQ. Altoist Frank Morgan, too, comes to play, tempering tart Parker-isms with sounds that Jackie McLean, a Morgan contemporary, was also exploring at this time. Section partner Walter Benton counters with a rich, sonorous Websterian fog, rounding out a horn section that has range, depth, ideas, and chops. Wiggins, a commanding, understated presence, is in a role that would probably have gone to Wynton Kelly or Red Garland if the casting had not been for a West Coaster. Between them, Wiggins, Morgan, and Benton further undermine the artificial and meaningless dichotomy of West Coast cool versus New York City heat.

Alternate frontcover:

The four tracks from the later 1955 date feature a familiar Savoy grouping of Count Basie band members: Frank Wess, Henry Coker, Charlie Fowlkes, and Eddie Jones, with Jackson, and Clarke. In the company of the Count’s men, Clarke and Jackson create a successful hybrid of bop and Basie-style swing. Frank Wess’ tenor and flute playing, both on form, is most at home with the Jackson and Clarke direction. Bassist Jones and Clarke are an effective study in contrasts, with Jones walks his bass unperturbedly as Clarke throws curves and change-ups to his cohorts. Telefunken Blues is recommended for the set with Morgan, Benton, and Wiggins, although the session with the Count’s men does offer several pleasures, notably, the work of the rhythm section, Wess’ flute, and Ernie Wilkins’ arrangements. (by Jim Todd)

Recorded November 1, 1954 in Hollywood, CA (tracks 01-04) & February 7, 1955 at Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ (tracks 05-08)


Walter Benton (saxophone on 01. – 04.)
Kenny Clarke (drums)
Henry Coker (trombone on 05. – 08.)
Charlie Fowlkes (saxophone on 05. – 08.)
Percy Heath (bass on 01. – 04.)
Milt Jackson (vibraphone on 01. – 04., piano on 05 – 08.)
Eddie Jones (bass on 05. – 08.)
Frank Morgan (saxophone on 01. – 04.)
Frank Wess (saxophone, flute on 05. – 08.)
Gerald Wiggins (piano on 01. – 04.)

01. Strollin’ (Clarke) 4.24
02. Sonor (Wiggins/Clarke) 4.51
03. Blue’s Mood (Clarke) 4.19
04. Skoot (Beal/Garner) 3.49
05. Telefunken Blues (Wilkins) 5.51
06. Klook’s Nook (Wilkins) 5.11
07. Baggin’ The Blues (Wilkins) 5.41
08. Inhibitions (Wilkins) 3.53




Kenny Clarke (January 9, 1914 – January 26, 1985)