[Dixielandjazz] Clarinet Players & Volume

Steve Barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Sun Jun 10 07:17:51 PDT 2007

Like J.D. Bryce, I play a Series 9 Selmer and/or a Series 10G Selmer.
Mostly now use the 10G even though it has a slightly smaller bore. It has a
larger outside diameter which makes it easier on my thickening (with age)
fingers. The Series 9 is used for larger venues, and/or outside work. Bought
it when I needed a backup "blaster" for gigs at the Showboat Casino several
years ago. 

And with a 5JB mouthpiece, I get plenty of volume for most venues. However,
outdoors trying to cover an audience of 5000 or so, It doesn't matter what I
use, I need amplification.

Goodman used a mike too when faced with that situation as do all musicians
where the acoustics are such that they cannot be heard. Let's not go
overboard about Goodman being able to cut through the band. His recordings
are all through a clarinet mike, not a single mike placed out in front of
the band. And live, in most venues he used a mike.

Yeah, Oliver played dance music softly and you could hear the dancers feet.
Any of us loud players have done the same thing for dancers. I think you
have to put the music/venue/band in context. How loud should you play?
Simple, loud enough to be heard at the back of the room and/or venue. And
that varies with venue and with whether the event is a concert, or a dance,
and with the mood you are trying to evoke.

For me, in a jazz nightclub, or at a concert, I prefer a loud band and a
loud clarinet. It appears that the audiences does also for I notice that the
applause level for clarinet work rises with the volume that the clarinetist
projects. (especially if he makes faces :-) VBG)

Yet I love to work with a mike in smaller venues so that I can play very
soft chalumeau into it. Those who have heard Davern live in a relatively
large venue, and then again on record, will appreciate the difference in
sound in that register live vs. recorded. As well as Davern's sound, live vs
recorded and then eq'ed through a mike.

Steve Barbone


From: "J. D. Bryce" <brycejo at comcast.net>
> Subject: Re: [Dixielandjazz] Clarinet players, volume and King
> Oliver's band
> To: <dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com>,    <confit at isp.com>
> Cc: Dixieland Jazz Mailing List <dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com>
> Message-ID: <001001c7aa2c$85864280$6401a8c0 at hsd1.md.comcast.net>
> Content-Type: text/plain;    charset="iso-8859-1"
> I've played Buffets (Crampon and R-13), Selmers(Series 9 and 10) and LeBlanc
> (III).  I currently use a Selmer Series 9 made in 1964.  The Series 9 and 10
> were both designed by Guglioto, who was the principla clarinet for the
> Philadelphia Pops.  The Series 9 and 10 were identicle excpet that the
> Series 9 has a larger bore and sound wonderful in jazz.  I use a wide
> opening on my mouthpiece and a medium reed.  I've never had any problem
> being heard in any venue.  You can check with Sheik Littlefield about that.
> The Albert System horns and somewhat different fingerings and as a result
> some passages with sound differently when played on Boehm and Albert system
> horns; not unlike the issue of playing Bix solos on cornet without using his
> rather unique valving.
> I love Dorsey and Fazola on their Albert systems and enjoy the hell out of
> Shaw and Defranco on their Boehms.
> I think it is the musician that makes the difference.
> Jack Bryce
> One of Sheik's Minions
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: <confit at isp.com>
> To: "Jack Bryce" <brycejo at comcast.net>
> Cc: "Dixieland Jazz Mailing List" <dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com>
> Sent: Saturday, June 09, 2007 7:00 PM
> Subject: [Dixielandjazz] Clarinet players, volume and King Oliver's band
>> Johnny Dodds played clarinet with Oliver when Doc Cheatham heard the band.
>> Johnny was a powerful, full-toned clarinetist that could undoubtedly have
>> been easily heard over the brass in that band.
>> New Orleans clarinetists prided themselves on heavy, big, fat sounds, and
>> achieved this by using mouthpieces that were very open and very thin
>> reeds. Willie Humphrey used a 1 1/2 reed. Many classical players use a 3
>> or 4 and mouthpieces with a narrow tip opening.
>> Any clarinet player who is inaudible over a band or needs a microphone
>> needs to change the setup they are using. It's that simple. Benny Goodman
>> and Artie Shaw could easily be heard over their big bands without mikes in
>> the 1930s and 1940s. Why? Big bore Selmer clarinets with big tone holes,
>> wide open mouthpieces and thin reeds. Clarinets are not made that way
>> anymore, because most clarinets are sold to classical players. I once
>> compared a modern Buffet with a Selmer L-series from 1936. The tone holes
>> on the Selmer are significantly larger.
>> There's been a lot of discussion that the New Orleans clarinet "sound" was
>> because of the Albert system clarinet. Personally I think that's all a lot
>> of romanticized drivel.
>> I believe there's a mention in the book "Hear Me Talkin' To Ya" that the
>> Oliver band could be so quietly that you could hear the dancers feet over
>> the sound of the band. In other words, they used dynamics, unlike the Lu
>> Watters band.
>> Regards,
>> Chris Buch

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