Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Jazz Clarinet on the Web

Websites and Interviews

Chock full of information on the latest news in the jazz community, is a great resource for music reviews, interviews, free MP3 downloads, and articles.  A quick search of "clarinet" on the site produces pages of entries on various subjects and performers.  The entries include Bob Bernotas's recommendations of recordings for starting a jazz collection in "Building a Jazz Library," a lexicon of jazz slang for those having trouble understanding the ever-changing lingo, and information and articles on world-renowned artists as well as new talent emerging on the jazz scene.  Featured in two separate interviews found on the site, German bass clarinetist and sax doubler Gebhard Ullmann discusses his latest album and how life in both Berlin and Brooklyn influenced its conception.  Visit his personal website and you can get a taste of his modern free jazz playing in any of the numerous MP3s listed, including the option to download PDF files of his jazz compositions to play along with his recordings. has an archive of feature articles and interviews dating back to 2007, including a three-part article about the rise and fall of the clarinet in jazz, and interviews with Buddy DeFranco and Anat Cohen.  The active blog is interesting reading material for any jazz player, and nice search features allow for investigation of specific performers or subjects.  The Sax on the Web community has active message boards about doubling on clarinet, with many discussions about equipment for various jazz and doubling situations.  Some threads also address clarinet music and technique. is a blog by musician Eric Dannewitz which is not updated very frequently but does feature discussions of clarinet equipment and technique, as well as some free sheet music.  The highlight is 284 pages of Aebersold ii-V-I patterns transcribed for clarinet by Dannewitz.  Some transcriptions of Eddie Daniels solos have been uploaded by another contributor.

There are many interviews (audio and written formats) on the web, and the sites we found are just the tip of the iceberg.  In an interview with Buddy DeFranco for the National Arts Endowment website, Molly Murphy asks him about why he chose to play the clarinet, playing in Tommy Dorsey's band, and his favorite clarinetist (Artie Shaw).  In a two-part segment on New Orleans clarinetist Evan Christopher in the Independent Ear blog, author Pamela Espeland interviews Christopher on his approach to jazz and breathing new life into the New Orleans style of playing, along with how his early musical experiences influenced his style and sound.  Interested in hearing some of his Creole clarinet playing? Check out NPR's website where you can listen to him perform live with the Danza Quartet in the French Quarter.  NPR is an invaluable source for not only current events and news, but also for podcasts of radio-show interviews.  In a 1985 broadcast of radio-show "Fresh Air", host Terry Gross goes in-depth with Artie Shaw on his success in the music business and why he eventually chose to leave it.  More coverage of the band leader can also be found in an hour-long production of "Jazz Profiles" back in 2008.  For complete access to NPR's coverage of Shaw over the years and to hear audio files of him playing, click here.  
The use of Albert-system clarinet in the jazz community is prevalent and the website "Albert System: The Jazz Clarinet" run by Oscar Font (clarinetist and trombonist), pays tribute to players whose use it.  The site is filled with photos of players from the turn of the twentieth century, and shows the instruments jazz legends were playing on in their heyday.  Font also provides biographical details and audio clips of Jimmie Noone, Johnny Dodds, George Lewis, and Edmond Hall.  Photos of a collection of Albert-system clarinets by Eberhard Kraut are featured, along with a photograph of the models of clarinets that George Lewis played on.  Actor/director Woody Allen is also a clarinetist, and Font has authored two books highlighting his life as a musician, which can be obtained by emailing Font directly.

You Tube videos

We have compiled a
 playlist of over thirty of the best and most popular jazz clarinet videos we could find on YouTube. With videos ranging from historical recordings to recent performances by jazz greats, these videos represent nearly a century of jazz clarinet playing at its best.

One of the earliest jazz clarinetists, Johnny Dodds, is well-represented on YouTube, with one video of recordings from 1923-29, and video footage of "Johnny Dodds and his Dixieland Jug Blowers" from 1926.  Our list also includes a recording of "Blue Horizon" from 1944 with Sidney Bechet on clarinet.

Many clips from old films have been uploaded to YouTube.  One of the most popular jazz clarinet videos is a clip from the film Second Chorus (1940) of Artie Shaw performing what has become known as his "clarinet concerto."  To date, it has received over 100,000 views.  

Benny Goodman is featured in several clips from the film The Powers Girl (1943), and "Sing, Sing Sing" from Hollywood Hotel (1937), which has received an astounding 1 million views and may well be the most-viewed clarinet video on YouTube.  Our list also features a montage of Goodman photos set to his "Stompin' at the Savoy," and a fun animated short set to Goodman's "All the Cats Join In."


Online video has made it possible for everyone to hear the original versions of old recordings uploaded by collectors and fans, such as Woody Herman's "Woodchopper's Ball" played from an old 78 rpm record.  Another treat is an old black-and-white video of Herman playing "After You've Gone" with his big band.

The videos also include incredible jazz bass clarinet playing by Bobby Mintzer and Eric Dolphy, a Woody Allen Dixieland performance in New York, and televised Pete Fountain performances of "Jazz Me Blues" and "A Closer Walk With Thee."  Other current performers such as Paquito D'Rivera, Don Byron, and Eddie Daniels can also be found on our playlist--don't miss the incredible video of Bernard Berkhout and Eddie Daniels performing "Avalon."

Listed here is just a sampling of the online jazz clarinet resources and videos we have come across. Please help us expand the list by sending in your favorite jazz videos and websites to us at