[Dixielandjazz] Great Clarinet Players

Tom Duncan tduncan at bellatlantic.net
Wed Mar 24 12:16:50 PST 2004

I agree fully with both Benny Theiler and Brian Towers on the criteria for
great clarinet playing. I am afraid that I started the thread diversion to
high notes by my amazement at the range attributed to Tony Scott on his web
site which seemed to say he could play an octave over the maximum for most
high reachers ("In his high range he was able to reach 8 notes higher over
the highest C on the clarinet"). That was a misleading statement and it
turns out he is only superhuman in that regard as are Kenny Davern, Allan
Vache and, doubtless, many others. It's nice to play that high and to do it
musically and in balance, but it is only one part of what makes a musician


Tom Duncan

I have read every thread concerning the "Worlds Best Clarinetist" and it
seems to me that everyone is putting the emphasis on how high one can play,
to be the criteria determining the best.

I would submit that the determining factor should depend upon one's
proficiency in both jazz and classical performance, and there was no one
(IMHO) more qualified than the late great Benny Goodman.

O.K., DJML'ers, what do you think?

Benny Theiler


'How high", "how fast" and "how clever" are not the key ingredients for
judging clarinet greatness, in my book anyway.  "Tone" "Soul"  "Feeling" &
"Originality" would come ahead of those items in my contest and Johnny Dodds
stands supreme - just ahead of Omer Simeon, Sidney Bechet (yes, he played
strong clarinet too); Jimmy Noone, Barney Bigard  and all the other historic
trail blazers in "twenties" classic jazz.
Brian Towers
Hot Five Jazzmakers

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