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 Re: Jazz Clarinet
Author: seabreeze 
Date:   2017-08-25 02:56

Hirt used to tell the story that he was "talking trash" with Clarke Terry, Miles Davis, and Ellis Marsalis one day when Ellis asked him if he could get his boy Wynton a trumpet. Davis said the boy should learn another instrument because the trumpet was too hard, but Ellis persisted and Hirt said he could get him a Leblanc (the brand he played at the time) maybe at a discount (or maybe free). Anyway, Wynton got his first trumpet. As is always true in stories like that, it was a little different each time it was told. Wynton did verify that he got his first trumpet from Hirt and then went to George Jansen (who studied with William Vacchiano at Julliard) for private lessons and eventually enrolled at NOCCA in the music program. Ellis went on to direct the jazz studies program there and later become Coca Cola sponsored professor of jazz at the University of New Orleans.

Making all those horrid commercial records was of course the idea of
the musicians' agents and a way to support their families. The gigs Pete did in New Orleans didn't cover insurance or retirement, and at one time Hirt had a day job as a tech for a pest control company, Orkin, Inc. Hirt had six kids to feed. New Orleans grows entire crops of musicians but doesn't do much to financially support them. That's one reason Louis Armstrong lived in Queens, N.Y. instead. Alvin Batiste found a way to survive (but certainly not grow wealthy) by accepting teaching positions at Southern University and elsewhere, and he was a great teacher.

Batiste loved to step way out of character and genre when he was interested in the music, as when he appeared with a high energy fusion band with drummer Billy Cobham. It just happens that the bass player in that band was one of Batiste's many successful students. https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=alvin+batiste+fusion+jazz+festival. He only plays clarinet in the first part of the head arrangement before fading into the percussion section and a little inaudible bit at the end, but this appearance must be one of the few times that a clarinet tried to play any role in a guitar/percussion dominated fusion band and succeeded!

Batiste had this same fusion energy when he wrote for and directed the Southern University Jazz Band. Listen to their track "When God Gave Us a Song," (just next to the Billy Cobham one on the YouTube screen) and the equally amazing one "Tunjii," both recorded at at 1971 jazz festival. The contrast with the commercial work Hirt and Fountain were doing is stunning. If I may say so, Batiste was venturing into musical explorations where Eddie Daniels doesn't go even today and he was taking his clarinet along with him. He was changing his musical vocabulary to incorporate what he liked in players like Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane. Listen the clarinet work on Tunjii. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0moF1phE8Ck.



Post Edited (2017-08-25 10:44)

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