We gave it an A
Regarded by many as the leading jazz clarinetist of the day, Kenny Davern is usually heard in a stark or neo-Dixieland setting, but here he is in the surprising and altogether congenial company of a string orchestra. The lush background splendidly complements Davern’s keening high notes and sultry ballads in a program of 16 well-chosen standards such as ”It Had to Be You” and ”Georgia on My Mind.” One unmistakable highlight is ”Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?,” an anthem of the 1930s — and now of the ’90s — that brings Davern’s high-octave intensity to a fevered pitch as he puts a spin on every melodic phrase. My Inspiration has an overall lyricism, a nearly innocent charm rare in modern music. It lulls you with its sweetness and then sneaks up on you with a barely restrained ardor.