[Dixielandjazz] Mostly self-taught musicians and the focus on Benny

Harold Smith s3856lpa at webtv.net
Sat Sep 13 15:36:06 PDT 2003

Steve Barbone makes some valid points regarding Benny's formal training,
or lack of same.  However, equally  applicable points were made  by
those who felt that Benny was not self-taught.

The truth, IMHO, is that Benny's obsessive need to practice in order to
draw every nuance out of the horn, coupled with his total concept of
what he wanted to accomplish musically is what made him what he was.
Just analyze Goodman's tone, his articulation, he clarity, his phrasing,
his feeling for whatever mode he was playing in, and you'll readily
understand that these various facets could not have come from anyone but
Benny himself. Benny assimilated what he heard from Ted Lewis, and Jimmy
Noone, and I have no idea who else, and took the clarinet to new heights
of hot, sophistacted, heartfelt jazz.

As you may be able to tell, I worship BG.

Now, in this day and age, I will say that Mr. Chuck Hedges is the modern
counterpart of that kind of practice philosophy.  Chuck is driven to
practice on a daily basis for several hours at a crack, and it certainly
shows in the fluidity of his technique, and the purity of his tone.  He
is a monster in the Swing Genre, and his up=tempo stuff is electrifying.

Overall, I've heard a number of these high-tech trained soloists in the
modern big bands.  They amaze me with their chops, as well as their
ability to read such complicated charts.  However, most ofthem sound as
if they came off the assembly line, and are playing with hearts made of
computer chips.

Glad to get my two cents in.  Meanwhile, it's back to the couch so that
I can contemplate the possiblity of my practicing somtime, maybe next

Harold Smith

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