[Dixielandjazz] Clarinet Mouthpieces

Steve barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Wed Oct 12 21:07:39 PDT 2005

Like Tom Duncan and Kenny Davern, I use a 5JB Van  Doren Mouthpiece,
alternating between the long beak (Series 88) and the regular beak whenever
my head tells me the one on the horn (Selmer 10G, or Buffet circa 1948) is
betraying me. (no doubt it is all in my mind). I started on an HS** in 48.

Like Tom, I play with conviction; and the firm belief that the right note is
never more than a half tone away. Love the mouthpiece, Love Davern who
designed it, having grown up with him in NYC. Wish I could play like him and
every time we meet, remind him that my wife, Martha met him and listened to
us both at a cutting session circa 1960 and remarked: "Gee, he plays better
than you do".

Loved her honesty and married her 6 months later. Still married to her.
Kenny laughs about it in the security of a master clarinetist who plays
better than all of us. And louder and sweeter too, if he desires. Therefore,
what the others may have used is of no interest to me.

Not sure what "projection" means either, but have agreed to check out a new
Yamaha clarinet that is supposed to "project better" than any clarinet ever
made. Should have it in a few days. Maybe I will become enlightened.

But then I fondly remember Sidney Bechet in 1950, fashioning a reed from a
wooden cigar box lid with his straight razor and putting it on whatever
mouthpiece he used and sounding as just as magical as Sidney Bechet could.
An act of Zen? Perhaps, proving that all this stuff about reeds, and
mouthpieces is mostly, if not all, in the mind.


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