Kenny Davern (7 January 1935 – 12 December 2006) was an American jazz clarinetist and saxophonist.
His career began at the age of 16, first on baritone sax, sitting in with many of the legendary groups in New York City. By the age of 19 he had joined and recorded with Jack Teagarden’s band. He worked with various bands throughout the 1950s and 1960s, including joining the Dukes of Dixieland in 1962.
In the 1970s, he paired up with fellow reedman Bob Wilber and formed Soprano Summit, with both players switching between clarinet and various saxophones. After the group disbanded in 1979, Davern devoted himself to playing only the clarinet, in trios with piano and drums. The pair reunited in 1991 to form Summit Reunion.
In the early 1980s, he formed the Blue Three with Dick Wellstood and Bobby Rosengarden. In his later years, since the 1990s, he led his own quartets, employing guitarists Bucky Pizzarelli, Howard Alden and James Chirillo.
Davern has been widely recognised and awarded. In the late 1980s, the New York Times hailed him as ‘the finest jazz clarinetist playing today’. In 1997, he was inducted into the Jazz Hall of Fame at Rutgers University. And in 2001, he received an honorary doctorate of music at Hamilton College, Clinton, New York.
This live recording shows Davern playing ‘Apex Blues’ with Climax Jazz Band in 1978.