1. Basin Street Blues
Kenny Davern with The Dixie Rebels
2. My Inspiration
Irving Fazola with Bob Crosby and His Orchestra
3. Dogtown Blues
Matty Matlock with Bob Crosby and His Orchestra
4. Perdido Street Blues
Sidney Bechet with Louis Armstrong
5. Take My Hand Precious Lord
6. Wild Man Blues
Johnny Dodds's Black Bottom Stompers
7. Love Is Just Around the Corner
Pee Wee Russell with Eddie Condon and His Windy City Seven
8. Memories of You
Eddie Miller with Pete Fountain and His Band
9. Dame Blanche
Bob Wilber with Jack Teagarden
10. Sweet Lorraine
Jimmie Noone's Apex Club Orchestra
11. Show Piece
Edmond Hall and His Quartet with Teddy Wilson
12. Beau Koo Jack
13. Meet Me in Chicago
Jack Maheu with the Art Hodes Orchestra
and the Jimmy McPartland Orchestra
14. Rose Room
15. Body and Soul
Barney Bigard with Louis Armstrong and the All-Stars
Produced by Ernest Anderson and Milt Gabler, Joachim E. Berendt,
Norman Granz, Creed Taylor, Jack Tracy, and others
"When they asked me to put together a compilation of traditional New Orleans jazz, I immediately thought of my fellow clarinet players," says Pete Fountain. "The clarinet has the distinction of being the hardest of all horns to play and probably the most neglected of all instruments."
Fountain is easily the most celebrated clarinet player since the Swing Era, and this unique collection gives him, in turn, a chance to celebrate his heroes and his peers, the great "stick" players of New Orleans and traditional jazz. Personally selected and annotated by Fountain himself, this set covers the entire history of the instrument in classic jazz, from founding fathers like Sidney Bechet and Johnny Dodds to Swing Era masters lie Pee Wee Russell and Irving Fazola to contemporary giants like Bob Wilber and Kenny Davern.
When they asked me to put together a compilation of my favorite recorded examples of traditional New Orleans jazz, I immediately thought of my fellow clarinet players. In my opinion, the clarinet has the distinction of being the hardest of all horns to play and probably the most neglected of all instruments. It flourished in the early days of New Orleans jazz and in the Swing Era, but has been largely forgotten ever since, perhaps because it is such a demanding instrument. Therefore I put together this compilation to help all the clarinet players get a break!
Incidentally, I do not regard myself as being overlooked, since I got a lot of wonderful lucky breaks over the years. This time it's all the other clarinetists that I want to put in the spotlight.
My first hero, of course, was Benny Goodman. I don't think anybody came to the clarinet from the Thirties onward without being directly inspired by Benny. When I heard that sound, I was hooked on the instrument. It might sound odd because I was born and raised in New Orleans, which is ground zero for jazz clarinetists. But Benny himself, as I later found out. was originally motivated to play clarinet by the great New Orleans masters: Jimmie Noone, Johnny Dodds. Sidney Bechet. Along with George Lewis, Irving Fazola, Edmond Hall. Barney Bigard, and Albert Nicholas, these guys are the gold standard of jazz clarinet. So it isn't surprising, really, that it took a Chicagoan to lead me back to my hometown style.
My second hero was Irving Fazola (originally known as Irving Prestopnick). who became a star with Bob Crosby's orchestra and whom we all called Faz. For years I tried to get a "fat" sound just like Faz had. It was always my goal to try and combine Benny's technique with Faz's soul. The first time I heard him in person, I asked him to play "Twelfth Street Rag", and he told me to get lost! I found out later that was because he hated the song and the solo he had played on it, even though that record was a hit for him. A few nights later, he came into a club where I was working and complimented me on my playing, and it was the greatest moment in my life! On the day Faz died — he was only thirty-six — I subbed for him at the Opera House Burlesque. His mother later gave me his clarinet. I couldn't play it for two reasons: First, it was an Albert system instrument (I play Boehm, and the two fingering systems are very different); second, it smelled so heavily of garlic (Faz was infamous for his odors) that pretty much no one can play it to this day. But it's still an honor to have it.
Then again. the Bob Crosby band had a lot of great clarinet players. like Matty Matlock and Eddie Miller. Matty was from Kentucky, but no one could accuse him of not being as good as any New Orleans stick player! That band was lousy with great clarinetists. They were one of my major inspirations as a bandleader. as I always tried to get a balance between the traditions of swing and Dixieland.
Eddie Miller was a special hero and friend of mine. Whenever he came back home to New Orleans. Eddie used to sit in with my band. the Basin Street Six, and he invited me to visit him if I ever came to Los Angeles. I actually wound up taking him up on that offer on my honeymoon. For four nights I jammed with Eddie and the Teagarden brothers. while my blushing new bride sat in the club drinking Cokes. since she was too young to order alcohol. Some honeymoon! I'm amazed that she didn't leave me then, but we've now been married fifty years.
In 1968, Eddie came back from Los Angeles and resettled permanently in New Orleans, and actually went to work in my band! At every show I introduced him by saying, "Playing with this man is like taking a music lesson every night," and I meant it. "Memories of You" is a beautiful example of how we used to play together, with Eddie on tenor, his usual horn, and me on clarinet.
I was also especially fond of all the clarinet players who worked with Louis Armstrong — Louis was the greatest musician ever, so it's not surprising that all the giants of the clarinet would want to be in his band. The three clarinetists most closely associated with Pops are Johnny Dodds (in the Twenties), Barney Bigard (in the Forties), and Edmond Hall (in the Fifties). On different occasions, such greats as Sidney Bechet, Albert Nicholas, and Omer Simeon also worked with Louis. The legendary Bechet, who generally played soprano saxophone rather than clarinet, really stood out for me — no one else ever had a sound or a vibrato like that.
After New Orleans, I suppose the most fertile breeding ground for clarinetists was Chicago. Pee Wee Russell is considered a representative of the Chicago school. Pee Wee was an anomaly — a lot of people didn't know what to make of his squeaky, squawky, bluesy sound, but most of the musicians loved it, especially us reed players.
The next group of players can be roughly considered my own generation, and I'm very proud to be lumped in the same category as Bob Wilber and Kenny Davern. They are the standard-bearers of today, just as Benny, Faz, and Bechet were the standard-bearers when I was growing up. I listen to everything they do, and I always catch them whenever we're in the same town at the same time. Jack Maheu is a special friend of mine. He just opened his own club, the Tin Roof, here in New Orleans. Most nights at my club, I'll play "Tin Roof Blues" and then give a plug for Jack's place. I also like to go over there whenever I'm not working at my joint and do two-clarinet duets with Jack. We clarinet players have a unique kind of bond: When we get together, it's not about competition or cutting each other, it's about cooperation and working together in harmony.
I just turned seventy, and I still play five nights a week at my club in the New Orleans Hilton. I get my biggest kicks out of playing for little kids, some of whom have never heard a jazz clarinet before. They ask me, "Mr. Fountain, do you still practice every day?" I tell them, "No, I don't practice anymore. I'm seventy and if I haven't got it now I never will. Now it's your turn to practice!"
- Pete Fountain with Will Friedwaid September 2000
Pete Fountain is probably the best known clarinetist, and certainly one of the best known traditional Jazz musicians. of the last fifty years. With the exception of two years when he served as featured soloist on The Lawrence Welk Show. he has resided in New Orleans his entire life, where he continues to operate and serve as the primary attraction at Pete Fountain's French Quieter Inn at the New Orleans Hilton. He has recorded nearly 100 albums, including many national best sellers.
1. Basin Street Blues (Spencer Williams) 4:03
Kenny Davern (clarinet) with The Dixie Rebels: Pee Wee Erwin [recording under the pseudonym Big Jeb Dooley] (trumpet); Lou McGarity (trombone); John Mortillo (piano); Milt Hinton (bass); Cliff Leeman (drums).
Recorded November 8, 1988 at Fine Recording, Ballroom A, New York City
Original-LP issue: The Dixie Rebels Strike Back With True Dixieland Sound Command 33-801
2. My Inspiration (Bob Haggart-Nappy Lamare) 2:86
Irving Fazola (clarinet) with Bob Crosby and His Orchestra: Sterling Bose, Billy Butterfield, Zeke Zarchy (trumpet); Ward Silloway, Warren Smith (trombone); Matty Matlock (clarinet, alto saxophone); Joe Kearns (alto saxophone); Eddie Miller (tenor saxophone, clarinet); Gil Rodin (tenor saxophone); Bob Zurke (piano); Nappy Lamaze (guitar); Bob Haggart (bass); Ray Bauduc (drums).
Recorded October 20, 1938 in Chicago
Original 78-rpm issue: Decca 2209; available on CD: Bob Crosby: South Rampart Street Parade GRP GRD-816
3. Dogtown Blues (Bob Haggart) 4:07
Matty Matlock (clarinet) with Bob Crosby and His Orchestra: Billy Butterfield, Yank Lawson, Charlie Spivak (trumpet); Ward Silloway, Warren Smith (trombone); Joe Kearns, Eddie Miller (clarinet, alto saxophone); Gil Rodin (clarinet, tenor saxophone); Bob Zurke (piano); Nappy Lamare (guitar); Bob Haggart (bass); Ray Bauduc (drums).
Recorded November 18, 1937 in Los Angeles
Original 78-rpm issue: Decca 18038; available on CD: Bob Crosby: South Rampart Street Parade CRP CRD-615
4. Perdido Street Blues (Li] Hardin Armstrong) 3:03
Sidney Bechet (clarinet, soprano saxophone) with Louis Armstrong (trumpet); Claude Jones (trombone); Luis Russell (piano); Bernard Addison (guitar); Wellman Braud (bass); Zutty Singleton (drums).
Recorded May 27, 1940 in New York City
Original 78-rpm issue: Decca 18090
5. Take My Hand, Precious Lord (Thomas A. Dorsey) 5:23
George Lewis (clarinet) with Joe Robichaux (piano); Alcide "Slow Drag" Pavageau (bass); Joe Watkins (drums); Thomas Jefferson (vocal).
Recorded January 14,1958 in Chicago
Original LP-issue: The Perennial George Lewis Verve MGV 8277
6. Wild Man Blues (Louis Armstrong) 3:01
Johnny Dodds's Black Bottom Stompers:Louis Armstrong (cornet); Roy Palmer (trombone); Johnny Dodds (clarinet); Barney Bigard (tenor saxophone); Earl Hines (piano); Bud Scott (banjo); Baby Dodds (drums).
Recorded April 22, 1927 in Chicago
Original 78-rpm issue: Brunswick 3567
7. Love Is Just Around the Corner (Leo Robin-Lew Gensler) 3:05
Pee Wee Russell (clarinet) with Eddie Condon and His Windy City Seven: Bobby Hackett (cornet); George Brunies (trombone); Bud Freeman (tenor saxophone); Jess Stacy (piano); Condon (guitar); Artie Shapiro (bass); George Wettling (drums).
Recorded January 17, 1938 in New York City
Original 78-rpm issue: Commodore 500; available on CD: Pee Wee Russell: Jane Original GRP CMD-404
8. Memories of You (Eubie Blake-Andy Razaf) 4:11
Eddie Miller (tenor saxophone) with Pete Fountain and His Band: Fountain (clarinet); Godfrey Hirsch (vibraphone); Earl Vuiovich (piano); Oliver Felix (bass); Nick Fatool (drums).
Recorded May 22, 1965 at Pete Fountain's French Quarter Inn, New Orleans
Original-LP issue: Pete Fountain: Standing Room Only Coral CRL 757474
9. Dame Blanche (Kees Bruyn) 2:28
Bob Wilber (clarinet) with Jack Teagarden (trombone); Bobby Hackett (cornet); Bud Freeman (tenor saxophone); Hank Jones or Gene Schroeder (piano); Ed Shaughnessy or George Wettling (drums).
Recorded June 4, 1962 at Fine Sound, New York City
Original-LP issue: Jack Teagarden Verve V6-8495
10. Sweet Lorraine (Clifford Burwell-Mitchell Parish) 3:13
Jimmy Noone's Apex Club Orchestra: Noone (clarinet); Joe Poston (alto saxophone); Earl Hines (piano); Bud Scott (banjo, guitar); Lawson Buford (tuba); Johnny Wells (drums).
Recorded August 23, 1928 in Chicago
Original 78-rpm issue: Brunswick 80023; available on CD: Apex Blues GRP GRD-633
11. Show Piece (Edmond Hall-Teddy Wilson) 3:37
Edmond Hall and His Quartet with Teddy Wilson: Hall (clarinet); Wilson (piano); Billy Taylor (bass); Art Trappier (drums).
Recorded July 20, 1944
Original 78-rpm issue: Commodore 580
12. Beau Koo Jack (Louis Armstrong-Alex Hill) 2:44
Omer Simeon (clarinet) with Earl Hines (piano) and Claude Roberts (banjo).
Recorded September 11, 1929 in Chicago
Original 78-rpm issue: Brunswick 7109
13. Meet Me in Chicago (Art Hodes) 7:09
Jack Maheu (clarinet) with:right channel: Art Hodes Orchestra: Nap Trottier (trumpet); George Brunies (trombone); Pee Wee Russell (clarinet); Hodes (piano); Earl Murphy (bass); Buddy Smith (drums); and left channel: Jimmy McPartland Orchestra: McPartland (trumpet); Vic Dickenson (trombone); Bud Freeman (tenor saxophone); Floyd Bean (piano); Johnny Frigo (bass); George Wettling (drums). Clarinetists Maheu and Russell solo back to back in that order on this track.
Recorded May 7, 1959 at Universal Recording Studios, Chicago
Original-LP issue: Art Hodes-Jimmy McPartland: Meet Me in Chicago Mercury SR 60143
12. Rose Room (Art Hickman-Harry Williams) 3:21
Albert Nicholas (clarinet) with Earle Howard (piano); Jimmy Woode (bass); Kansas Fields (drums).
Recorded January 3, 1963 in Koblenz, Germany
Original LP-issue: Americans in Europe, Vol. 2 Impulse AS-37
13. Body and Soul (Johnny Green-Robert Sour-Edward Heyman-Frank Eyton) 5:30
Barney Bigard (clarinet) with Louis Armstrong and the All-Stars: Armstrong (trumpet); Jack Teagarden (trombone); Dick Cary (piano); Arvell Shaw (bass); Sid Catlett (drums).
Recorded November 30, 1947 at Symphony Hall, Boston
Original LP-issue: Satchmo at Symphony Hall, Vol. 2 Decca DL 8038; available on CD: GRP GRD-661
Produced by Norman Granz (track 5): probably Bud Dant (track 8); Creed Taylor (track 9); Jack Tracy (track 13); Joachim E. Berendt (track 14); Ernest Anderson and Milt Gabler (track 15); others unknown.
Some of these tracks were transferred from disc sources. Surface noise is audible.