[Dixielandjazz] Of Clarinets & Sopranos

Steve barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Tue Jun 7 06:52:33 PDT 2005

Charlie Hooks wrote: (polite snip)

> On the other hand there's Kenny Davern,. . . He can produce a gorgeous
> sound outside against the wind--or inside over the crowd noise.  He
> hates microphones, won't use one, and if you can play like Kenny
> Davern, then you won't need one, either;

Amen. Kenny as a young kid was forced by his then teacher, whose name
momentarily escapes me, to practice in a large closet, full of coats.
They soaked up the sound. He was encouraged to blow louder & louder by
forcing more air (as Larry opined) through the horn. Teach let him out of
the closet when he possessed sufficient volume. As a result, he can blow
louder than any clarinetist around when the occasion rises.

His advice to me when we were both young teenagers? "Blow louder, Steve."

He uses a 5JB Van Doren Mouthpiece (wide lay) which allows a lot of air
through along with a 4 and 1/2 reed. Van Doren suggests a 1 and 1/2 reed for
this mouthpiece, maybe a 2 with the long beak version, so you can imagine
the strength of Kenny's chops.

Until May, I had been using the same mouthpiece. (Davern designed it for Van
Doren and had about 500 of them) and a 2 and 1/2 reed. However, since May
and about 25-30 gigs a month, half of which are at the Showboat Casino in
Atlantic City where we blow our brains out, the reed strength has gone up to
3 and 1/2. Amazingly the volume has gone up also and I can be heard in the
main slot machine room over the crowd, and slot noise. (a C chord)

Last Sunday on the street in Downtown West Chester, our substitute trumpet
player put ear plugs in. :-) VBG. If those Atlantic City gigs continue, I'll
get to a 4 reed soon and who knows, maybe even a 4 & 1/2. Even so, as
Charlie Hooks would know, I'll never be able to play as loudly, or as well
as Kenny Davern.

Steve Barbone

PS. To Russ Guarino: Say hello to Marc Allen Jones from trumpeter Paul
Grant. Paul is doing 16 gigs a month at the Showboat (where Marc Allen first
met him) with Paul Grant & His New Orleans Swing. A marching unit of
trombone, trumpet, clarinet, tuba and drummer. (No chord instrument) We go
all over the joint, stopping to play here and there. The crowd interaction
is absolutely phenomenal and we have second liners from 8 to 80 years old.

Microphones? We don't need no stinkin microphones. :-) VBG.

Tell him the old band stand is gone as "The House of Blues" has taken over
that whole area and turned it into a 2500 seat showroom and several other
music venues. Grand Opening in July.

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