Jim Clayton Lenny Jumps In (Clay-Tone)
Featured Spring 2016 JAZZIZ On Disc (Disc One)
As many artists have discovered, kids can be an endless source of creative inspiration. That certainly holds true for Toronto-based pianist and composer Jim Clayton. In 2013, he had something of a surprise hit with Songs My Daughter Knows, a collection of tunes that were inspired by or connected him to his 3-year-old daughter Lenny. Originally, Clayton intended the album as a party favor for guests at Lenny’s birthday party. But at his wife Tracey’s urging, he released the CD commercially, and it landed on the U.S. jazz radio charts and received thumbs-up reviews from DownBeat and Offbeat. Clayton returns to the wellspring of his offspring on Lenny Jumps In (Clay-Tone), as he once again succumbs to his daughter’s sunny, adventurous spirit. Musically and narratively, many of the songs allude to the Claytons’ time in New Orleans — papa Jim’s home away from home — where Lenny worked her charm on the locals. But Clayton returns to Canada for the lovely “Miss Kelly’s House,” our selection, which refers to the home of Oscar Peterson’s widow, Kelly, where he and Lenny are welcome visitors. Warmth and affection permeate the lively tune, which features adroit guitar work from Andrew Scott and sensitive rhythmic accompaniment from bassist Steve Lucas and drummer David Peters. Clayton even folds in a bit of Bill Evans’ “Waltz for Debby,” although it’s a cheery rather than wistful evocation.