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 Entry to jazz clarinet
Author: jonathan.wallaceadams 
Date:   2018-01-21 22:01

Hello all,

I'm a young clarinetist who has a lot to learn classically, but day by day, I feel the desire to get into jazz clarinet more and more. Where do I start? Jazz scales? Scoops? I just love the timbre and the freeness of the sound. I cant gliss or scoop or smear to save my life. Could it be my mouthpiece and reed setup? (Behn 4s on a VD M13L.) Any advice for opening up this whole other musical world to me?

Just an aspiring student.
Buffet Tradition
Mpc.: Hawkins "G", Barrel: Moba, Reeds: Reserve 3.5+

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 Re: Entry to jazz clarinet
Author: Bob Bernardo 
Date:   2018-01-21 23:30

Used maybe a Selmer Series 9 and the Centertone. A Leblanc, I'm not up on the those models though, but fellow readers know which models.

Designer of - Vintage 1940 Cicero Mouthpieces and the La Vecchia mouthpieces

Yamaha Artist 2015

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 Re: Entry to jazz clarinet
Author: Fuzzy 
Date:   2018-01-22 00:11

Hi Jonathan!

There are several different avenues one might take to learn jazz. I like early (trad/dixie/New Orleans/Chicago/West Coast) jazz styles, so any advice I might give is based in that direction:

Find a song you like to listen to...then play along with it and try to mimic the sounds you hear. There are many different ways in which to smear, growl, scoop, etc., and each person usually comes to his/her own preferred method(s). The "cheap and easy" method to scoop is to drop your jaw (like you're chewing bubble gum). It doesn't sound that great, but it is a start. Eventually, you'll probably end up being able to do the scoops with very slight changes in tongue/cheek/jaw positions, etc.

While equipment can somewhat restrict or broaden certain elements of jazz playing, the principles are the same, and achievable on any clarinet...even a top of the line classical setup.

Marcos is much more fluent in education and modernish jazz than I am, so perhaps he will chime in. (There are a lot of knowledgeable jazz folks on this bboard though...so hopefully you'll get the help you need.)

I'm happy to help if there's anything I can do too. Either here on the board, or in e-mail.


Post Edited (2018-01-22 00:11)

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 Re: Entry to jazz clarinet
Author: shmuelyosef 
Date:   2018-01-22 04:08

Presumably you are listening to jazz music...if not, that is the place to start. Include both the stuff that you hear and are drawn to, as well as listening to some internet 'feeds'...for example, Pandora has some presets that are good, but you can also type in an artist's name and hear that artist mixed with others that are stylistically similar. Listen to saxophone, trumpet, guitar, as well as clarinet. Initially, I would urge you to listen to a broad range...e.g. Dixieland, Klezmer, Choro, American Songbook, Bebop, Cool, and include some modern artists in the jazz fusion space...e.g. Fourplay and other projects by Jeff Lorber and his friends (favorites of mine). My favorite modern clarinet player is Anat Cohen, who is a virtuoso but plays a broad spectrum of music.
At some point, start including playing along with 'whatever is playing'...try to hear musical lines and then play them against the music. You can use Aebersold recordings or other playalongs, but I like just listening to the radio...particularly Jazz Fusion and Jazz Funk which has a lot of variety.
Your Buffet tradition will take you far. The only thing that I might recommend if I were your instruction, is to get an alternative mouthpiece setup that lets you use a softer reed...your M13 with a #4 Aria is not extreme, but 'in the pocket' for tonal stability and polite sound. For example, #3 Vandoren V12 or Legere #3 Signature with a mouthpiece like a Grabner K14, Portnoy BP02, Fobes 3L, etc...none of these choices is extreme, but rather 'in the pocket' for a different range of expressive freedom. The list is long and everybody has their preference, but a tip opening of 1.05-1.10mm and a facing length of 17-18mm will open up your options for tonal/pitch flexibility.
I used to play an R13, and ended up playing more folk music and big band than anything else, and switched to large bore Selmers. I do sit in with a community orchestra (if I pay attention to pitch stability), however, with this setup and have no problem blending, but I can also fill the melody space in a bluegrass or country band.

Post Edited (2018-01-22 04:13)

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 Re: Entry to jazz clarinet
Author: Matt74 
Date:   2018-01-22 07:18

Start by listening and finding things you like, and then playing like that as best you can. Focus on the tone and sound, the “voice”. You don’t need special equipment. A softer reed will probably help. Mouthpieces and horns matter, but it’s not necessary now. Work on getting a sound you like from what you’ve got now. You will be surprised at what you can do.

A very good place to start (Evan Christopher):



Some more, you should know these guys:

Eddie Daniels, https://youtu.be/U0RpblHqssQ

Paquito D’Rivera, https://youtu.be/kfgVPIa_bq8

Artie Shaw, https://youtu.be/pCXVxE_YeP4

Bennie Goodman, https://youtu.be/MeNsW17q81k


Felix Peikli, https://youtu.be/XEioFnz9vIU

Jimmy Hamilton & Russell Procope (Duke Ellington), https://youtu.be/xBe4D1Ks4Ek

- Matthew Simington

Post Edited (2018-01-22 07:27)

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 Re: Entry to jazz clarinet
Author: Fuzzy 
Date:   2018-01-22 08:29

In addition to the great information provided by the others (I especially love the Evan Christopher links provided by Matthew):

Marcos started a conversation a while back at: http://test.woodwind.org/clarinet/BBoard/read.html?f=1&i=460193&t=456287 where Dan put together a running list of some of the bboard's favorite jazz players. It might be worth a look. (There are also some links in that conversation to examples of some of the various styles/musicians.)


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 Re: Entry to jazz clarinet
Author: Dibbs 
Date:   2018-01-22 14:35

jonathan.wallaceadams wrote:

> I cant gliss or scoop
> or smear to save my life. Could it be my mouthpiece and reed
> setup? (Behn 4s on a VD M13L.)

It's not really mouthpiece or reed related though it's a bit easier with some setups.

It's easiest in the upper clarion. It's hard to describe how to do it but it's all to do with tongue position and something in the throat. Start with a C6. I can get it to go down at least a 6th, maybe even an octave on a good day, without adding fingers.

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 Re: Entry to jazz clarinet
Author: jonathan.wallaceadams 
Date:   2018-01-22 18:44

Thank you all for the great responses.
I've listened to all of the videos that you've recommended and I really like the Eddie Daniels sound.

I also really like this performance from Yevgeny Yehudin.

I really really like the sound of Victor Goines.

I think I want to go for that clean sound that Goines and Daniels have and eventually branch out into Klezmer. Is there a method to it or do I pave my own path through self-discovery? Thank you again

Just an aspiring student.
Buffet Tradition
Mpc.: Hawkins "G", Barrel: Moba, Reeds: Reserve 3.5+

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 Re: Entry to jazz clarinet
Author: Matt74 
Date:   2018-01-26 06:16

1. Start learning classic tunes by heart (the melodies). “American Songbook” type tunes are great. If you can pick them up by ear, all the better. The greatest players can play around the melody when improvising, so that you almost hear it through their improvisation. Example:

Lester Young, There Will Never Be Another You - It’s in Bb so you can play along! (Listen first):


2. Learn all your major and minor scales and arpeggios. Don’t freak out about it, just keep learning new ones, and never pick the horn up without playing one for at least a few minutes. Smooth, even, and andante with a metronome is best. If you can play them well slow, speeding them up will be easy. Learn your scales straight, but you can also practice swinging them if you want.

3. Find someone to play with, and a teacher.

I don’t know anything about Klezmer (apart from faking it when no one is listening), but I expect they would advise you the same as above, but with Klezmer tunes, and maybe some different scales. I found this: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=basAAaV7Qks

- Matthew Simington

Post Edited (2018-01-26 06:38)

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 Re: Entry to jazz clarinet
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2018-01-31 22:36

When the Saints Go Marching In. Start there. Memorize the tune and embellish on successive choruses.

Freelance woodwind performer

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