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 Lester Young on clarinet
Author: Clarineteer 
Date:   2014-05-07 10:47

Found this track featuring Lester Young on a metal clarinet.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IyH0fEbzWxY

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 Re: Lester Young on clarinet
Author: Bruno 
Date:   2014-05-07 17:55

Sounds like Prez.

b>



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 Re: Lester Young on clarinet
Author: ned 
Date:   2014-05-08 06:05

Good to hear - thanks.

P.S. I wonder if there is a picture of him holding a clarinet - we all aware of his idiosyncratic approach to holding the tenor sax.

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 Re: Lester Young on clarinet
Author: Bruno 
Date:   2014-05-09 00:48

Yeah - but that's hard to do with a clarinet unless you could play it out of your ear. Artie Shaw had a strange way of playing, And there's a player I've seen who turns his head from left to right while keeping the clarinet straight - terrible tone but a pretty good jazz player.

Evan Christopher: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eb7aS3qh4_4

But the few photos I've seen of Prez with a clarinet were only ones of him holding it.

bruno>



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 Re: Lester Young on clarinet
Author: ned 
Date:   2014-05-09 04:55

'' And there's a player I've seen who turns his head from left to right while keeping the clarinet straight - terrible tone but a pretty good jazz player.''

I'm surprised you say about Evan Christopher's tone.

He's a superb technician, of course, and he employs the New Orleans tone as been used by numerous of his fellow New Orlenians ever since jazz originated in that city.

It's a tone I try to emulate...

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 Re: Lester Young on clarinet
Author: Bruno 
Date:   2014-05-09 07:45

Okay Ned, I don't know much about New Orleans clarinet history. I do know that players used to put a wad of chewing gum inside the mpc on the baffle to make people sit up and take notice!
If you say it's an authentic tone, so be it. It's not that I didn't like it - it's just not what I'm used to hearing in NY.
b>



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 Re: Lester Young on clarinet
Author: ned 
Date:   2014-05-09 09:10

Well you DID say ''terrible tone'' which, to me, indicated that you did not like it. I'm pleased to hear this is not the case.

My reading of your comments indicates that your history of jazz clarinet commences with the likes of Shaw and Goodman - do correct me if I'm wrong.

It all originated in New Orleans of course, around 1890 (according to Rudi Blesh anyway) and here are some of those native born NO players.

Check out these Youtube links:
Albert Nicholas http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AnY5-mca2-0

Barney Bigard http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3n3TZDMnC-E

Omer Simeon http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNw2F90XkG0 (ps) ignore the incorrect personnel - the era is about right though

Jimmy Noone http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4lGRNmIseCs

Irving Fazola http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RM7nBR7UISU

cheers,

jk



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 Re: Lester Young on clarinet
Author: Clarineteer 
Date:   2014-05-09 11:23

Those style of play exhibit a rather thin and nasal sound.

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 Re: Lester Young on clarinet
Author: MarlboroughMan 
Date:   2014-05-09 19:16

I seriously doubt Jimmie Noone, Albert Nicholas, Omer Simeon or Barney Bigard used chewing gum in their mouthpieces (or Irving Fazola, Pete Fountain, Evan Christopher or Dr. Michael White for that matter).

Nasal and thin are not words I'd use to describe Noone, Simeon, Bigard...

The history of jazz clarinet is long and varied. Blesh has his opinion. There are others. New Orleans, while uniquely foundational and essential to jazz history, was not the only locale or culture to importantly impact jazz in general or the jazz clarinet specifically. Chicago, New York, Kansas City, and Cleveland, among many others, played significant roles. (Just as Mannheim and Leipzig are not without importance simply because they aren't Vienna, so too with various places in jazz history).

The tircky part is this: while NOLA is foundational, to what degree is difficult to discern for jazz clarinet. Many of the famous "New Orleans" clarinet players spent the lion's share of their gigging lives in Chicago. Jimmie Noone, Omer Simeon and Johnny Dodds are good examples. Noone developed as a player in Chicago under the instruction of Franz Schoepp, also Benny Goodman's teacher. Omer Simeon moved with his family to Chicago when he was just 12 years old--he was raised there from that point on and gigged there throughout his career. It's hard to call him a New Orleans player when he didn't really grow up there as a musician--though that doesn't stop New Orleans from claiming him (nor should it--but the facts are important).

None of this history is as clean cut as the broad brush myth writers would have us believe (and where those myths came from is another intriguing study...sometimes having little to do with the music itself). Both Artie Shaw and Clarence Hutchenrider spent important developmental years in Cleveland--a not so insignificant fact when everything is considered. Shaw made trips to Chicago during that time and was impressed by players like Noone and Frank Teschemacher--another important Chicago player who influenced Benny Goodman too.

And all of this is still pretty early in jazz history.

Eric

******************************
The Jazz Clarinet
http://thejazzclarinet.blogspot.com/

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 Re: Lester Young on clarinet
Author: seabreeze 
Date:   2014-05-09 20:43

The New Orleans tradition of clarinet playing, both in its Crescent City origins and its various permutations in Chicago, New York, and elsewhere (including Europe and Asia) is very real and very much still alive. Someone trying to grasp this continuing tradition might start by reading Tom Sancton's book, Song for My Fathers: A New Orleans Story in Black and White (New York: Other Press, 2006).

Scanton apprenticed himself at a young age to traditional New Orleans Albert-system Jazz player George Lewis. The book recounts in a very literate and entertaining way the whys and hows of this voluntary tutelage. Scranton learned his lessons pretty well, and today performs professionally in New Orleans in the traditional jazz tradition.

Another interesting sociological foray into the culture of New Orleans Jazz clarinet is Julie Ann VanGuzen's 2012 honors thesis written for The School of Arts and Sciences at Rhode Island College: The Chameleon Clarinet: Cultural and Historical Perspectives in American Thought in the 20th Century (available in its entirety on the Net). She moved to New Orleans to do her research, asked some of the right people some of the right questions, and got some of the right answers. What she missed, I think, is how the New Orleans tradition was adapted in the 1960s by Alvin Batiste to branch out into the avant guard (hand in hand with Elvin Jones, McCoy Tyner, John Coltrane, et al.), but perhaps that is another story.



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 Re: Lester Young on clarinet
Author: MarlboroughMan 
Date:   2014-05-09 22:16

seabreeze,

I just ordered Sancton's book, on your recommendation. I'll look forward to reading it. I'll also check out the thesis you recommend. Having said this, I have my reservations about accepting an orthodoxy of jazz history based upon apprenticeship to George Lewis. He was undoubtedly a sincere musician and an honored figure among many (players as disparate as Pete Fountain and Dr. Michael White have called him an important influence), but even his own opinions over the decades shifted with various social pressures--particularly his public opinions of Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw. Also, while it can seem that today his word (or whichever version of his word) holds authoritative sway, this wasn't always the case. As recently as the 1980s, Barney Bigard dismissed Lewis as more or less a media creation, and lamented that he was given so much attention when a player like Willie Humphrey was virtually ignored. There are potentially extra-musical reasons for some of this as well...and if considered they ought to be carefully weighed and sifted.

On a deeper level, my points above are meant as a hint that "Chicago style" might not be merely a "permutation" of New Orleans style, but a substantial contribution, or musical source, in its own right. I personally think that Chicago and, to a lesser extent Cleveland, contributed to the development of jazz in ways that New Orleans couldn't (or at least didn't). Some of this even doubled back to New Orleans eventually (as your Alvin Batiste suggestion). (There are other very important cities as well--Kansas City, for example).

I've argued in other places that the influence of klezmer (through Goodman and Shaw) was an early and essential source for jazz clarinet as we know it. In a sense, I feel it took that stream of music to bring out the full potential of the clarinet as a leading solo instrument.

None of this diminishes the importance of New Orleans as the birthplace of jazz--it simply puts into perspective the importance of other musical sources in the rapid growth and development of the artform.


Eric

******************************
The Jazz Clarinet
http://thejazzclarinet.blogspot.com/

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 Re: Lester Young on clarinet
Author: MarlboroughMan 
Date:   2014-05-09 23:03

Just read through a great deal of The Chameleon Clarinet. My initial reaction is that this is more the type of historical perspective and research that needs to be done, and I'm heartened to see someone doing it.

The net VanGuzen caste was quite wide--not really a discussion of NOLA, and not meant to be a comprehensive study of specifically New Orleans clarinet. That, perhaps, explains why she didn't mention Batiste or any number of other clarinetists from around the country. American culture is more her canvas, as the title suggests.

It's easy to come up with quibbles (mine would be that consulting Goodman's autobiography would provide an answer to who influenced him as younger player--Leon Roppolo). But quibbles are not really important--it's the outline of her thought and how she goes about presenting her case that is impressive.

Many thanks for the tip. I'll have to go back and read the NOLA section carefully.


Eric

******************************
The Jazz Clarinet
http://thejazzclarinet.blogspot.com/

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 Re: Lester Young on clarinet
Author: seabreeze 
Date:   2014-05-10 00:01

The more philosophical you try to get about what constitutes a particular type of jazz or jazz itself, the more elusive the music becomes. New Orleans trumpeter Nicholas Payton believes the very concept of jazz is a creation of white-controlled media and white intellectuals (perhaps desperately looking for something to analyze and write about) . He believes, if I am not mistaken, that all music is really an ethnic, local, social creation that exists within a particular culture and serves that culture's particular needs. Music is essentially live performance and entertainment with necessary audience participation. He finds harmonic analysis of the various kinds of music called jazz misleading and considers it an an imposition of classical musical theory on a kind of music that is really a rhythmically-driven ritual between performers and audience. His web site goes into considerable detail on developing these points.

Most New Orleans musicians, no matter what kind of music they play, are acutely aware of their audience and the ritual entertainment function they are performing. George Lewis did perform in this sort of matrix, but I agree with you that so did many dozens of others clarinetists of the time who were seldom or never featured in the media, and many of them played just as well as or better within that idiom than Lewis did.

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 Re: Lester Young on clarinet
Author: MarlboroughMan 
Date:   2014-05-10 01:09

Hermeneutics is a minefield, and some contemporary musicians seem to have an interest in planting more mines. In my opinion, such writings are a logical extension of the circular firing squad style of self-promotion that many jazz musicians adopted in the post-bop era--which reached a frenzy in the 1980s.

When someone tells me there is no such thing as jazz, I hear a tired hermeneutical manipulation meant to disparage some and promote others--and at this point, when things are so difficult for professional musicians, it comes off either as crass self-promotion or bitterness lashing out without much substance.

For my part, I promise not to call anyone a jazz musician who doesn't want to be.




Eric

******************************
The Jazz Clarinet
http://thejazzclarinet.blogspot.com/

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 Re: Lester Young on clarinet
Author: John Morton 
Date:   2014-05-13 00:26

I am surprised to read a discussion of early NO clarinet players that does not mention Lorenzo Tio Jr., who was teacher to all the renowned NO clarinetists, among them Sidney Bechet, Jimmie Noone, Johnny Dodds, Albert Nicholas, Barney Bigard, Louis Cottrell Jr. and Omer Simeon. I don't know if all those guys stayed with Tio's double lip/Albert horn thing, but I sure hear the common thread in the playing of all those men. Barney Bigard might have gone farthest from the roots after joining the Ellington band.

Lester Young cited the C melody saxophonist Frank Trumbauer (a northern player in white bands) as a model for his tone, and I hear this in both his clarinet and tenor sounds.

John

nice shot of Lester here, but the clarinet is not in his mouth:
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_6-fI-32fvg0/S09Of-uYywI/AAAAAAAAEzc/mOjBh5d8r9w/s1600/Lester-Young-saxophone-388.jpg



Post Edited (2014-05-13 00:44)

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 Re: Lester Young on clarinet
Author: MarlboroughMan 
Date:   2014-05-13 04:39

The Tios were of great importance, but actually didn't teach all of the great early New Orleans player. Leon Roppolo, for example, stands outside of that line of pedagogy, and was very important to the development of Benny Goodman, Irving Fazola, and by extension, Pete Fountain.

I don't hear much Trumbauer in Prez's clarinet, but definitely in his tenor. His clarinet has always remained for me an intriguing "what might have been" situation more than anything else.



Eric

******************************
The Jazz Clarinet
http://thejazzclarinet.blogspot.com/

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 Re: Lester Young on clarinet
Author: seabreeze 
Date:   2014-05-13 06:01

Too bad Leon Roppolo became unstable and died fairly young; he was an inventive improviser.

I believe Larry and Harry Shields were also outside the Tio influence.

Jim Guiffre and some of the West Coast cool school clarinetists acknowledged the influence of Lester Young on their playing. I often wish that tenor sax star Zoot Sims, who loved to listen to accomplished clarinetists (and even played with Goodman) had taken a serious interest in the clarinet himself. With his fantastic sense of time and ineradicable swing, he would have been a great soloist on the instrument. I believe he would have done far more on the clarinet than Guiffre ever did, and he also was of the school of Prez.



Post Edited (2014-05-13 06:04)

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 Re: Lester Young on clarinet
Author: John Morton 
Date:   2014-05-13 06:55

Listening to Lester's clarinet in the slow and spooky Pagin' the Devil I certainly hear more of the early NO players than Trumbauer.

Roppolo, Goodman, Fazzola, Fountain, Shields: all white players. Bechet, Noone, Dodds, Nicholas, Simeon, Bigard, Cotrell: all black players. Different teachers, separate bands, separate cultures in the early years of jazz.

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 Re: Lester Young on clarinet
Author: Buster 
Date:   2014-05-13 08:38

deleted



Post Edited (2014-05-13 17:49)

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 Re: Lester Young on clarinet
Author: ned 
Date:   2014-05-13 10:02

''Introducing skin color into this discussion is really out of place...''

I don't see why at all.

It IS relevant that the early white and black players have, for the most part, had different backgrounds, different influences, different mentors and will sound different. I agree pretty much with John Morton.

When I listen to recordings, particularly those of the early period, I can fairly reasonably pick whether I'm listening to a black band or a white band.

That's just the way it is.



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 Re: Lester Young on clarinet
Author: Buster 
Date:   2014-05-13 10:30

deleted



Post Edited (2014-05-13 17:50)

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 Re: Lester Young on clarinet
Author: Clarineteer 
Date:   2014-05-13 14:05

deleted



Post Edited (2014-05-13 14:15)

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 Re: Lester Young on clarinet
Author: kilo 
Date:   2014-05-13 14:40

Quote:

His clarinet has always remained for me an intriguing "what might have been" situation more than anything else.

Pretty much the way I feel ... "if only".
Quote:

I often wish that tenor sax star Zoot Sims, who loved to listen to accomplished clarinetists (and even played with Goodman) had taken a serious interest in the clarinet himself. With his fantastic sense of time and ineradicable swing, he would have been a great soloist on the instrument.

Wow, that opens a rich vein for speculation!

Gerry Mulligan also played the clarinet on occasion. There's at least one video where he's seen practicing on the instrument. Here's a picture of him playing it as a teen:

http://www.loc.gov/loc/lcib/9906/images/gerry_3.jpg

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 Re: Lester Young on clarinet
Author: MarlboroughMan 
Date:   2014-05-13 16:21

John Morton wrote:

"Roppolo, Goodman, Fazzola, Fountain, Shields: all white players. Bechet, Noone, Dodds, Nicholas, Simeon, Bigard, Cotrell: all black players. Different teachers, separate bands, separate cultures in the early years of jazz."


John, your broad, pedantic brush strokes are misleading and unhelpful in what has been an historically sensitive subject for just about all jazz musicians, but is particularly acute in a discussion of jazz clarinet.

Race, culture, and history are of course very important subjects. But they aren't anywhere near as clear or segregated as you have stated. For example, Benny Goodman (son Russian Jewish immigrants), Buster Bailey (Black), and Jimmie Noone (Creole) all took lessons from Franz Schoepp (German) in Chicago (so much for your theory that they all had separate teachers). Pete Fountain (of French descent) sat in with George Lewis (Black) at a formative stage of his career. Barney Bigard (Creole) derided George Lewis (Black) and Johnny Dodds (Black) in print. In today's scene, very recently in DownBeat, Evan Christopher has said he is in the specifically CREOLE tradition--a sentiment shared to at least some degree by Victor Goines. Christopher even lamented that the "Creole tradition" was effectively gone from New Orleans by the time he got there--Willie Humphrey having died months before his arrival in NOLA. In doing so, he side-stepped some of the other people of color who play clarinet in New Orleans, and who claim Humphrey as an influence. These kinds of words can ignite firestorms, and I have no interest in setting any off--just be aware that your facile categories of "black" and "white", and your erroneous history that suggests these traditions were more or less perfectly segregated, is deeply misleading and unhelpful.

Earlier you posted that all great New Orleans clarinetists had studied with Tio. You were wrong. Roppolo didn't--he was a great New Orleans jazz clarinetist, and from New Orleans. He was also a huge influence on Benny Goodman, despite the fact that they didn't share ethnic background (remember that 'Italian' and 'Jew' in early 20th century were hardly considered very close ethnically--there are many who at that time would not have referred to either as "white"). Jimmie Noone was also a huge influence on Goodman's style--anyone who has studied Goodman can hear it. Less well known is the massive influence Goodman had on Edmond Hall, Barney Bigard, and Jimmy Hamilton (all of whom cited him as an influence--Hamilton even went on record saying he'd transcribed Goodman's solos). So much for NOLA or "black" players being uninfluenced by "white" ones.

You'll never catch me saying ethnicity, race, or geography is unimportant. I think all of these things matter and come into play. But everyone who has entered this world of jazz owes a great debt, somewhere, to someone who doesn't have the same same skin color or ethnicity as them--whether they acknowledge that debt or not. I count as personal friends many people of many different racial backgrounds, who have spent lifetimes in this music. I respect all of them and each of their own struggles.

Ned, if you agree with him, I suggest you study more.


Eric

******************************
The Jazz Clarinet
http://thejazzclarinet.blogspot.com/

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 Re: Lester Young on clarinet
Author: MarlboroughMan 
Date:   2014-05-13 16:28

Agreed on Rapp...like Bix, he was a prototypical tragic "young man with a horn."

Fascinating musings about Zoot Sims. Did he ever play clarinet? His work with Goodman was always excellent, sympathetic.




Eric

******************************
The Jazz Clarinet
http://thejazzclarinet.blogspot.com/

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 Re: Lester Young on clarinet
Author: John Morton 
Date:   2014-05-13 19:48

Eric, I take your point that my statement was misleading and insufficiently nuanced. The strains of jazz history are quite detailed, and are not well described by "broad strokes". First person accounts of the early days depict a variety of cultural streams in NO, a diversity which was accompanied by mutual respect.

I was trying to make a distinction between the players' formative years and their later careers in the greater world of professional jazz. My impression is that integrated bands were uncommon before the mid-twenties, and these players grew up in a world that acknowledged cultural identities. This worked to the disadvantage of some groups, but did not prevent learning and influence across cultural and racial lines. Human beings tend to set up a pecking order, not a happy thing, but real.

So ... I do not maintain that the traditions are "perfectly segregated", a simplistic view. What I do say is that they were fairly distinct in the early days, and their adherents self-identified. The players who became professionals spread the styles that nurtured them, and became influences on others. Lessons from Franz Schoepp or whoever did not erase their backgrounds. But 100 years on, Evan Christopher can still relate to a "Creole tradition", and the Tio students were definitely a vehicle for that inheritance.

John

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 Re: Lester Young on clarinet
Author: MarlboroughMan 
Date:   2014-05-13 20:21

John,

Regarding Schoepp, you might just as honestly have said that lessons by Tio didn't erase anyone's past either. Remember that Tio taught many people of color, not all of whom would agree with being lumped together as you did earlier. And as Bigard pointed out, all of them sounded very different from each other. To assert a "Tio style" is impossible--much harder than it is to even define a "Bonade" legacy.

The economics of the jazz age, the exploitation of various groups, and the proper compensation that should have existed are all different matters, and not something I'd care to get entangled in here: what I've been discussing is jazz clarinet as an art, not the business aspect of it. And despite the lack of integration, the cross influence was profound in nearly immediate.

As far as Schoepp is concerned, I'm not sure we can fully appreciate the brilliance of the fully formed Jimmie Noone without him, and as Noone is generally considered the full fruition of the 'Creole style', what does that say?
My personal opinion is that Noone was so remarkable as to be worthy of basing a 'school' of clarinet off of his style--and that he would have been great regardless of who taught him (Tio or Schoepp or anyone else). But the fact is he sought out both Tio and Schoepp to help him reach his goals. That no other student of Tio was as virtuosic as Noone, or became the definition of 'Creole Style' speaks volumes. Technically speaking, Noone is most like Goodman and Buster Bailey. They all shared the same teacher, yet neither of the others was Creole.

You should also note that Christopher's remarks are not exactly uncontroversial. You might want to ask some others playing in NOLA what they think of such things (I know some of them...believe me, they have opinions too, well worth considering in depth).

Having said that, I've corresponded with Evan on occasion, I dig what he does (though he approaches both the horn and history differently than me), and I applaud his tenacity in blazing a path forward.

(My fav quote from this thread so far, by the way, is seabreeze's "asked some of the right questions and got some of the right answers." Often that's the best we can hope for).


Eric

******************************
The Jazz Clarinet
http://thejazzclarinet.blogspot.com/

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 Re: Lester Young on clarinet
Author: seabreeze 
Date:   2014-05-13 20:51

Talk about diversity of influences! I grew up in New Orleans in the 1950s, listening to many traditional styles of jazz clarinet playing. The first classical player I heard on records was the Vienna Philharmonic's Leopold Wlach on his Koktan Oehler clarinet playing a stiff reed on a very long, close facing. That ultra dark, covered sound he gets on the Westminster recording of the Brahms Trio reminded me of some of the Albert System players in town! Then when I heard Louis Cahuzac play the Hindemith Clarinet Concerto with the composer conducting, I heard another sound completely different--almost as if from another instrument altogether. Cahuzac's tone on his French clarinet and his Vandoren Diamond Perfecta mouthpiece with a rather soft reed was as luminous and centered as Wlach's was dark and covered.

These two classical players, along with the many jazz players I heard when young, etched a neural pattern in my brain that remains vivid and fully working today. I asked myself so many times, which way should the clarinet sound--like Wlach or like Cahuzac--that I finally decided there was no answer. It can sound like either or neither. Most players today,in an era of homogenized style and tone, don't present such stark contrasts but I am glad to have been exposed to them. I don't have a fixed concept of how the instrument should sound, or how I should sound. I am pleased to not be a "single influence" player.

Go back to people like Noone, Goodman, and Shaw, and you have multiple influences probably even more diverse than I experienced growing up. John Cippola tells the interesting story of Buddy DeFranco losing a copy of the Jeanjean Vade Mecum that Artie Shaw had given him and having to replace it. What on earth, some would say, was Shaw doing with Jeanjean's Vade Mecum. Didn't Shaw play on a large bore clarinet and a white plastic mouthpiece? Why would he willingly practice out of a book written by a French Impressionist clarinetist who played in a completely different style? What kind of gumbo is that?

Mighty tasty kind, I would say.



Post Edited (2014-05-13 20:54)

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 Re: Lester Young on clarinet
Author: MarlboroughMan 
Date:   2014-05-13 21:05

Yes!

Less ethnic cleansing, more GUMBO!!!



Eric

******************************
The Jazz Clarinet
http://thejazzclarinet.blogspot.com/

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 Re: Lester Young on clarinet
Author: Orlando Natty 
Date:   2014-05-13 23:38

Tom Sancton's book is excellent. He still performs in NO at Preservation Hall and Palm Court. I've seen him perform several times and he's excellent.

I don't think there is necessarily one distinct NO sound. Some artists emulate each other (eg Sancton and Lewis, Fountain and Fazola) but they all have their own distinct sound. Guys like Evan Christopher and Michael White have what I would call a bit of a "dirtier" tone (grittier/raw not necessarily bad) that can be heard in some NO music, but even they do not sound exactly the same.

I just love NO music for the great variation in emotion it can evoke. From toe tapping to painfully soulful, it will make you feel no matter the song or artist.



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 Re: Lester Young on clarinet
Author: ned 
Date:   2014-05-16 04:39

''Ned, if you agree with him, I suggest you study more.''

Eric, I was agreeing with JM's statement regarding white and black players and their influences...that is all.

Your suggestion to me regarding studying more is (ahem) fairly patronising, but despite that, I'm actually not offended. Just to prove this, I should say that I have read one of your CD reviews in your blogspot, with some interest, it's the review of the JRM Red Hot Peppers. I remember buying the RCA LP, way back in about 1966 - it gets played regularly.

I note also, with interest that a fuller appreciation, by you, of NO jazz arrived in 1999. You may be be interested to know that my influences have been those players (mainly) from NO, for all of my 50 years of clarinet playing.

I also listened closely to latter day players (Shaw, Goodman et al) plus modern players and, very early in the piece, decided that playing the music which originated in that city was the path I’d like to follow.



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 Re: Lester Young on clarinet
Author: John Morton 
Date:   2014-05-16 06:47

Apropos of this discussion, I'd like to recommend my favorite book about jazz history: Here Me Talkin' To Ya, edited by Nat Shapiro and Nat Hentoff, from around 1955. It's a series of observations and eyewitness accounts by players who were personally involved in the music from 1895 on, from short paragraphs to 2 or 3 pages long. This great book has brought the early days to life for me more than any other.
John



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 Re: Lester Young on clarinet
Author: ned 
Date:   2014-05-16 10:48

''Here Me Talkin' To Ya, edited by Nat Shapiro and Nat Hentoff,''

Should be bought or borrowed by anyone interested in NO jazz...or ANY jazz, for that matter.

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 Re: Lester Young on clarinet
Author: MarlboroughMan 
Date:   2014-05-16 14:01

"I was agreeing with JM's statement regarding white and black players and their influences...that is all."

....which was precisely the facile dichotomy I had so strongly objected to.

When discussing the social history of jazz--the history of influence and of how the music developed from various cultural, ethnic, and racial sources--you are touching upon highly contested and complicated topics, which aren't well served by facile terminology, or simplistic understandings of segregated sources and influences.

Hence my original comment.

Eric

******************************
The Jazz Clarinet
http://thejazzclarinet.blogspot.com/

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 Re: Lester Young on clarinet
Author: MarlboroughMan 
Date:   2014-05-22 20:18

Received Tom Sancton's book "Song for My Fathers" in the mail two days ago--could hardly put it down until I'd finished. This is a very deeply moving book, and impossible to categorize--it's a family saga, a study in mid-century race relations, jazz history, and a poignant account of fathers and sons. Hard to believe he fit all of it into 300 pages.

Many thanks for the recommendation, seabreeze. This book goes into the permanent collection.


Eric

******************************
The Jazz Clarinet
http://thejazzclarinet.blogspot.com/

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 Re: Lester Young on clarinet
Author: seabreeze 
Date:   2014-05-23 04:46

Glad you liked it. The book is also one of the few attempts to document the sociology of how the traditional style of jazz is passed on from generation to generation. I grew up in that matrix but was never as much a part of it as Scanton because I learned more in school bands and taking lessons from symphony players than at the feet of jazz masters. But I was always listening, with both ears!

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 Re: Lester Young on clarinet
Author: MarlboroughMan 
Date:   2014-05-23 23:29

Agreed on the sociological aspect. I liked his 'oral historical' approach to the whole thing too--no footnotes or index. In the end, I think he even clarified that as a conscious effort--this book is to be taken, like the music, as an act of memory and tradition--not 'scientific historic method.'

Having said this, the insights gained by reading it are invaluable--even in the points he wasn't necessarily trying to make. I'm not sure, for instance, how deliberate the picture of a 'Preservation Hall Industry' he was trying to paint--but it is nevertheless strikingly there. The amateur vs professional musician dichotomy between "the mens" of the Hall and Bourbon Street also jumps off the page. It's too facile to write, as he does at one point, that the 'white' music was "fast and soulless"--and thankfully he doesn't dwell on this untenable prejudice long. (One could say the same of bop, though without the racial designation, and one would be equally wrong).

The book inspires a deeper look at the full implications of the 'serious amateur' status of many die hard traditionalists--and what that might mean about the historiography of 'traditionalism' itself. A couple of years back, I mentioned to someone my opinion that Jimmie Noone's wasn't preserved as a 'traditional' clarinet style most likely because amateurs can't imitate him like they can George Lewis or Johnny Dodds. Since that time, I've deepened my appreciation for Lewis and Dodds, but Sancton's book tends to reinforce that opinion in me rather than quell it. Amateurs of an oral tradition can only preserve what they can imitate--placing Noone and many others outside their sphere. To then present the oral history they CAN imitate as the 'real' canon is somewhat less than ideal.

But these are matters he probably didn't intend to bring up. Most moving to me was the dramatic family story he weaves of what jazz meant to his father, and then to him. One wonders who it meant more to--the man who saw a symbol of himself in "the mens", or the boy grew into it, fusing his own voice with the music. Deeply powerful, deeply moving, and a book anyone wanting to know about jazz would benefit from profoundly--because he describes, beautifully, a jazz life--and living a jazz life is really the only way to be a jazz musician (it is not something to be dabbled in, or played as a 'style').


Eric

******************************
The Jazz Clarinet
http://thejazzclarinet.blogspot.com/

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 Re: Lester Young on clarinet
Author: Bruno 
Date:   2014-05-24 01:31

Somebody asked whether Zoot played clarinet. I have a record with Zoot and Al Cohn, both playing clarinet. I looked on Youtube but I guess nobody uploaded it.

I can't imagine anybody in my generation starting on woodwinds on saxophone. I think we all started on clarinet.

Here's Jerry Mulligan on clarinet being taught by Tom Jobim.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ElyZpwVC_IE


bruno>



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 Re: Lester Young on clarinet
Author: cyclopathic 
Date:   2014-05-24 23:44

Here is a good article on Lester and clarinet and his attachment to metal no-name clarinet (also on Benny buying him CT!):

http://yestercenturypop.com/2012/05/09/clarinetist-lester-young/

Benny Goodman mentions purchasing a Selmer (wood) clarinet for Young while in Europe, an instrument fewer clarinetists might recoil from. While it’s endearing to imagine Young gratefully accepting the gift and sticking to his cheap little instrument, the truth is that it doesn’t matter what kind of clarinet Lester Young played, only that he played clarinet.

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 Re: Lester Young on clarinet
Author: seabreeze 
Date:   2014-05-25 06:03

Well, Bruno, I just want to tell you that that Youtube video of Gerry Mulligan playing bossa nova on the clarinet has made my day!

There's something about the way the great Bari sax player holds the clarinet that reminds me of the way Robert Marcellus used to hold it. With fondness and respect!

Mulligan sounds really great on the clarinet with his glass mouthpiece (one of the old vintage O'Briens?) and the same puffed out embouchure he used on the big saxophone. Notice he doesn't sound at all like someone trying to play "jazz" on the instrument. He just plays the tune with perfect rhythm--his whole groove is on the rhythms and polyrhythms--no goofy vibrato, smears, or jazz "licks." He doesn't make it sound like a little saxophone either. Making that melody work over all those rhythms is all he cares about, and it makes you want to sing and dance.

Imagine if Mulligan had recorded a Bossa Nova hit like The Girl from Ipanema on clarinet with Astrud Gilberto instead of Stan Getz on tenor sax. It might have changed pop music history.

Listening and watching him play, I could only think, "how beautiful an instrument the clarinet is!"

Other viewers must have felt this too. Look at the Youtube rating! Even the trolls liked Mulligan on clarinet--243 to 0 approval.

This video is priceless. Can you tell us the name of the record (Label and number) that has Zoot Sims and Al Cohn playing clarinet. Sims played with Goodman's band, and Cohn played with Artie Shaw's. Too bad they and Mulligan didn't do more on clarinet--they certainly had the talent to.



Post Edited (2014-05-25 06:28)

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 Re: Lester Young on clarinet
Author: Bruno 
Date:   2014-05-25 07:06

Seabreeze, I have that platter someplace in my record cabinets but it would probably take a day to find it. Perhaps google could help. I think it's a 33rpm record.

Aside from that, I'm astonished at how precise Tom Jobim is about the arrangement and rhythm of the last few notes of his bossa nova tune and how difficult it is for an accomplished professional to get it right.

I too noticed the respect he has for his clarinet. On Youtube there's a video of him singing a blues he wrote that's funny and swinging. Take a listen!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IzL2meIgjbs

Best,

bruno>



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 Re: Lester Young on clarinet
Author: seabreeze 
Date:   2014-05-25 08:22

Ok. I see Sims and Cohn recorded a You'n-Me album, and they played clarinet on at least one track, "Angel Eyes."

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