Eddie Daniels | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Eddie Daniels peruses and updates the Benny Goodman songbook on his latest recording (Benny Rides Again on GRP)--a perfectly reasonable thing for Daniels, the most virtuosic of contemporary jazz clarinetists, to do. But the linkage extends beyond the obvious. Goodman was also the first jazzman to play and record classical music; and Daniels, along with Wynton Marsalis and Keith Jarrett, is one of the most spectacular examples of this increasingly prevalent crossover. Although Daniels first appeared on the scene as a gifted tenor saxist with the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis band, he has never abandoned the early classical training that garnered him a master's at Juilliard. (You won't find many jazz musicians whose playing inspired praise from Leonard Bernstein--who compared Daniels's "elegance and virtuosity" to Artur Rubinstein's, no less.) What's more, Daniels has actively explored the fusion of jazz and classical music in a variety of ways, from the obvious (performing Mozart and jazz within a single concert) to the more complicated process represented on his mid-80s album Breakthrough and in a 1988 concert with the Vermeer Quartet, both of which involved an organic combination of jazz techniques and classical thinking and instrumentation. He'll offer up both sides of his artistry this week in separate concerts: first as a guest with the Vermeer Quartet, and then in a jazz-duo concert with the similarly ambi-stylistic Pianist Mike Garson. With the Vermeer: Sunday, 3 PM, concert hall, DePaul University, 800 W. Belden. With Garson: Monday, 8 PM, Civic Theatre, 20 N. Wacker. 242-6237.

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