Date: 2017-08-19 07:22
Bill Smith was artist in residence at Loyola University, New Orleans around 2009. He collaborated with John Reeks, bass cl. in the Louisiana Philharmonic and professor at Loyola, even composing a few things for bass clarinet. Dr. Michael White took Smith on a tour of New Orleans and showed him where all the jazz pioneers lived. I always liked Smith in the '50s when he was playing jazz cl. in the cool style, probably the most successful in finding the appropriate voice for the instrument therein. He's in that mode with Shelly Manne on the folk jazz album (Greensleeves) and the Concerto for Clarinet and Jazz Band. Yoder's analysis of the Five Pieces for Clarinet is good, showing how Smith uses tone rows.
Irving Fazola died young, around 36, from too much of the good life in New Orleans. Too much drinking, too much rich food. Fazola liked both Leon Rappolo and Jimmy Noone though he never sounded as ethereal as Rappolo or as technically flashy as Noone. Faz played Albert system clarinet with a crystal mouthpiece that enhanced his already very wide and mellow sound. His most famous recordings were with the Bobcats; he was chosen by Glen Miller to perform with the Miller Orchestra, but a personality conflict arose and he never reached prominence with them. For a brief period, some jazz fans were arguing that Faz might even be a better player than Benny or Artie, and he beat them out in a few polls. Faz was a great player in the New Orleans tradition and in early Swing, but I can't see him venturing with a band into the emerging streams of bop that both Benny and Artie did or really getting interested in performing classical music the way they did. Fountain was the most successful of players inspired by Faz and flexible enough to change his style to incorporate Goodman's rhythmic drive. But Fountain, like Faz, was uninterested in later jazz styles, and basically ignored bop, cool, and post bop, though some of his side men (like bassist Don Bagley) would occasionally introduce little hints of those styles into the performances. DeFranco, Scott, Baptiste, Bill Smith, Daniels, etc. represented an alien world into which he would not venture. In this, he was different from, say, Chuck Hedges, who could and did venture into these styles and others when he chose. Also, Fountain had little interest in playing the classical repertoire, though he did occasionally listen to classical players (mostly Kell). Fountain had the raw talent to learn any of these styles, had he ever been interested, but he never was. As he was fond of saying, he got his degrees in music at the conservatory of Bourbon St., and he was satisfied with that.
In New Orleans today, there are many players of merit. You can find traditional bands on Frenchman Street at the back of the Quarter, and as often as not, the clarinetists will be women--so it's gals and guys now, no longer just guys. Everybody knows Doreen Kitchens, who performs on Royal St. in front of the Rouse Grocery on weekends, plays great jazz, and puts on a fine show. On this list I think Fuzzy, the Marlborough Man, and a few others follow New Orleans Jazz clarinet more than I do. I know Fuzzy is really up on who's playing on Frenchman, and the Marlborough Man was mentored by Pete Fountain. At 74, I don't hit the clubs much, especially because I don't drink and am a health-conscious, low-fat vegan, in many ways culturally more at home someplace like Berkeley or Vancouver than New Orleans. I am not a jazz clarinetist, but I grew up immersed in Albert system clarinet and old time jazz players. It's in my blood, but I don't play that way and never wanted to. If I play jazz at all, it comes out more along the lines of Alvin Batiste when he was in his most third stream mode or derived from Latino music like Nestor Torres' flute. I am in New Orleans and New Orleans is in me, but I'm not really of New Orleans--if that makes any sense. I am completely out of place in strip joints or trying to eat cajun sausage and high cholesterol foods. I hope to make it to 100, and still be playing my own way, and encourage others to do the same, no matter where they were born or where they live.
Post Edited (2017-08-19 20:02)