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I've actively avoided "traditional" jazz for years - make that "decades". Now, for some twisted reason beyond my understanding, I am drawn to play clarinet in the traditional New Orleans fashion. Yes, I'm listening to a lot of music - just learned of Dr. Michael White last week - but I'd like to learn of a method book, for lack of a better term, that discusses and has exercises in the style.

Might anyone have some (positive and helpful) suggestions?
 

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Dr G: Have you heard Evan Christopher? Now THERE's a young, current, hot trad-jazz clarinetist (Albert System, too).

Other current players to seek out are Alain Marquet (Charquet & Co., and Paris Washboard, France); Jean Francois Bonnel (Hot Antic JB, Nimes, France); John Goodrich (Uptown Lowdown, Seattle); Ron Hockett (with Jim Cullum, Jr. in San Antonio); Walter Sereth (who's chair I filled with Golden Eagle JB); and Stan MacDonald who used to play with New Black Eagle JB in Boston.

After all of these years of playing this kind of music, I'm sorry to say I don't know of anything in writing to help one get into it. What I did was listen to Bechet (on clarinet), Johnny Dodds, Jimmie Noone, Albert Nicholas, Darnell Howard, and George Lewis to name a few. I guess it didn't do me much good, though. I love that stuff but end up doing what I do - seem to get along okay with my own style, but . . . DAVE
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks, Dave, I knew I could get a schoolin' from you. ;)

The suggested listening list is much appreciated.
 

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Dr G said:
The suggested listening list is much appreciated.
George. Forget about all those rummies. Pee Wee Russell, dude, Pee Wee Russell. :twisted:
 

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Discussion Starter #5
How 'bout I just play the humble student and add him to the list? ;)

Thanks, Gary.
 

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Dr G said:
How 'bout I just play the humble student and add him to the list?
Surely you've read enough of my posts to know that I'm pulling Dave's leg. And hey. I didn't even take a shot at Sidney's vibrato this time. :angel4:

But seriously, if you're not familiar with him, listen to Pee Wee. I would not recommend him as your role model if you're just getting oriented to older jazz, but he was a one-of-a-kind. Very interesting player.
 

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Dr.G,

I'm a big Trad fan but I certainly can't contribute anything
more than Dave or Al.

I can wish you success and pleasure in your new endeavor,
which I do.

A long time ago I heard someone describe Trad
as "cartoon music." I don't mind, I like cartoons too.

I wonder which is most popular here: Trad,
smooth jazz or cartoons?

rabbit
 

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The role of clarinet in a Dixie band is not as clearly defined as those of trombone and cornet. And keep in mind that there are several genres of traditional Dixieland jazz.

During the head, the clarinet often plays a third above the melody. But in some newer forms, the trombone plays that part and the clarinet plays a fifth above. It gets interesting when the clarinet player is from the old school and the trombone player is from the newer school. I played cornet in such a band. Both players privately asked me to get the other guy to "stop playing my notes."

After the head, many clarinet players simply improvise freely on the tune during ensembles without regard to form. But, then, so do the other players.

Listen to recordings of Pete Fountain, particularly his later stuff in which Pete is the star, and the rest of the band mostly plays accompaniments for Pete.

Other notable traditional clarinet players not mentioned yet include Kenny Daverne, Bob Wilber, Peanuts Hucko, Matty Matlock, Henry Questa, Bobby Gordon, Terry Myers, Wally Garner, Pee Wee Spitelera, Jim Snyder, Jack Mahue.

Benny Goodman and Jimmy Dorsey played good Dixieland clarinet. They were kids when Dixieland was the pop music of the day.
 

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Al: I agree.

However, Dr G's quest was for traditional New Orleans' fashion clarinet playing. Almost all the guys you mentioend are late Chicago-style swingsters. Early Wilber (and when Davern played with Wilber), were probably better examples of the more traditional school of playing, even though Wilber and Davern were polished, close-to-swing players.

Only two of the ones I mentioned were swingsters (Ron Hockett and John Goodrich, albeit they are both very good players).

When I listen to most so-called Dixieland clarinetists today, I walk wondering if they ever heard of Bechet, Dodds, and Noone. Most of the better players are much more Goodman/Shaw than Bechet/Dodds.

While I personally appreciate the swingsters' skills, my preference is for the guys who started it all AND for those who play it today. Yes, there is room for all styles in the so-called Dixieland genre, but there is a huge difference once the genre is sub-divided among the traditionalists and the swingsters.

Evan Christopher, Alain Marquet and Jean Francois Bonnel have that trad edge. Walter Sereth and Stan MacDonald are as good as they come in the real trad-New Orleans' style. DAVE
 

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Dave Dolson said:
Al: I agree.

However, Dr G's quest was for traditional New Orleans' fashion clarinet playing. Almost all the guys you mentioend are late Chicago-style swingsters.
You assume he knows the difference. When someone asks about New Orleans jazz or Dixieland, I don't make that assumption. What to us are well-defined differences are often blurred lines to others.

Also, when someone heads in that direction musically, I don't want them to be restricted to that narrow definition. They'd miss out on a lot.

New Orleans is a place, not a style of music. At least not anymore. Say "New Orleans jazz," and most people think you are talking about Dr. John.

(Add to my list John Skillman.)
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I'm loving your responses and diggin' the exchange. This is the most fun I've had at SotW in a long time. Thanks all for jumpin' in to share in schoolin' me.

You're right, Al. I don't even know what Chicago style is. I've a friend that's a retired music prof who plays (mostly) classical on sax, "Dixieland" jazz on clarinet. I'll have to get him to share some of these concepts with me over a drink or two.

Cheers!
 

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Al: I take people at what they write and don't assume anything. To assume Dr G didn't know the difference is probably as wrong as to assume he DID know the difference. He wrote what he wrote and that's what I went with. His latest post cleared that up for both of us.

However, I DO agree that if someone is talking about the overall genre of "Dixieland" they may not know about the differences.

I mean, how many straw-hat-and-arm-garter Dixie bands are there? Lots - and most of the clarinetists play a vanilla-style of Dixie clarinet in the expected style with the cornet and trombone on the same old tired warhorses that most Dixie bands play.

To me, the mark of a great "Dixieland" clarinetist is that he/she stands out in style and technique without having been identified . . . a player that I instantly recognize without being told who was playing. I admit that at the time Goodman rose to fame (and others followed in his style - I also will allow that maybe it WASN'T Goodman who started that swing-style of playing - I really don't know), I can't tell one from another. They all play a zillion notes with the might-as-well-be same phrasing.

But when I listen to Bechet, Dodds, Noone, and George Lewis, I can instantly tell you who is who. There just weren't/aren't a whole lot of guys playing like those guys.

With Pete Fountain, Goodman, Shaw, Henry Cuesta, etc., etc., I sure can't identify them, other than to say WOW, they had great technique. Believe me, no slam on any of the swingsters - I just dig the hard-core traditionalists - those who DON'T play like everyone else; those who had their own unique sound.

I will also allow that any Dixieland musician true to the genre is going to be SO very different than today's jazz, be it bop, smooth, funk, or any of the myriad of modern styles. So in a way, listening to any good Dixie clarinet (actually any instrument in a Dixie band) will sound totally foreign to most jazz fans and musicians and will serve as a good basis to wrap one's mind around old jazz.

Beyond clarinet, listen to cornets and trombones, pianos and drums - and compare those trad styles with what you hear in today's jazz. A world of difference - and when modern jazzers try to play trad jazz, it usually fails unless the individual player is talented enough to switch styles - few are. DAVE
 

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Pete Fountain, Goodman, Shaw, Henry Cuesta had recognizable styles and tone differences. Did not listen to Henry Cuesta that much but played with his brother Raoul here in Hosuton in the 70's-- a family of really fine musicians
 

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That you cannot identify the playing of Goodman, Fountain, Ed Hall, Hucko, Pee Wee, and Matlock does not say that their styles are not distinctive and unique. Only that you haven't listened to them that much.

That reflects only your own preferences and does not mean those guys all sound alike. Far from it.

To me, the mark of a great "Dixieland" clarinetist is that he/she stands out in style and technique without having been identified . . . a player that I instantly recognize without being told who was playing.
The operative phrase being, "that I instantly recognize." (emphasis added) Well, why is the only measure of greatness the fact that you can identify the player? What if I can? Doesn't that count?

I would wager that I can pass any blindfold test and select from the six players I just mentioned with 100% accuracy. Any time, any place, any tune.

And I also maintain that they hold their own place in the halls of greatness along with the players you admire.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Well this has gone downhill fast.

Egos aside, Al, I appreciate what you and Dave have had to share with me.

At this period in my newfound appreciation New Orleans style, I recognize that I, too, will fail the blindfold test. I'm alright with that. I can still enjoy it and I'm confident that I will, in time, learn to recognize my favorites too.

It would help, now that we've determined that New Orleans is a place (I think Chicago is too ;) ), to briefly list favorite players AND their respective styles so I may start sorting them out as I listen.

Thanks to all for the contributions.
 

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Dave Dolson said:
and when modern jazzers try to play trad jazz, it usually fails unless the individual player is talented enough to switch styles - few are.
Usually it's a guy whose playing evolved from traditional jazz though later forms. The reason you don't hear a lot of that is because most players start learning with a genre they like and stop evolving when they find something with which they are comfortable.

I play jazz piano styles from ragtime through an approximation of how Bill Evans plays, cornet styles mostly from the 50s Dixie era (Wild Bill, Cathcart, etc.) and mainstream swing and some bebop on sax (big Dexter influence). I stopped evolving at those places on each instrument because subsequent forms of jazz don't interest me as a player. It isn't a question of being talented enough to switch styles. It's a matter of not caring enough to play the other styles.

A lot of the studio and theme park players I know can switch styles upon request. They have to. It's their bread and butter. You don't hear about them because they aren't high-profile players outside their own circles. But there are indeed a lot of those guys.
 

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Al Stevens said:
I would wager that I can pass any blindfold test and select from the six players I just mentioned with 100% accuracy. Any time, any place, any tune.

And I also maintain that they hold their own place in the halls of greatness along with the players you admire.
When my wife started playing with the jazz ensemble I introduced her to Eddie Daniels among others. Eddie quickly became her fav. They don't teach this stuff in most schools.
 
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