On the clarinetist's latest album, the blues might be modernized or tweaked, but it's never far away. Fresh Air's jazz critic says The Edenfred Files is modest in a good way, like a musical chapbook or novella. The scale suits Harper's pointedly focused music.
In a career that ran from the 1930s into the 1980s, and included work in big bands and rock 'n' roll, the clarinetist, saxophonist and bandleader changed to reflect the times. Herman would have turned 100 on May 16.
On her latest album, Claroscuro, the jazz clarinetist explores influences that range from Louis Armstrong to Brazilian music to that of her native Israel. It's the desire to adapt the instrument to so many musical traditions that has earned Cohen such acclaim.
A regular performer at the Village Vanguard, Anat Cohen paid tribute to her early clarinet hero Benny Goodman in 2009, in honor of his 100th birthday. On Clarinetwork, her quartet plays tunes associated with Goodman, or at least songs he recorded while backing Billie Holiday.
In April of this year, just a month before the death of New Orleans jazz clarinetist Alvin Batiste, the Marsalis Music label celebrated him with one of its "Honors" discs. The recording — Batiste's first in more than a decade — paired the pioneering modern jazzman with younger musicians, including two of his students. Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead has a review.
Jazz musician Kenny Davern died this week at the age of 71. Davern loved traditional jazz, and played clarinet and soprano saxophone. He was a member of Soprano Summit, along with Dick Wellstood and Bob Wilber. We rebroadcast a live concert with Davern, performing with guitarist Howard Alden and bassist Phil Flannagan. This originally aired on Feb. 18, 1988.
With his latest CD, Ivey Divey, bandleader Don Byron pays homage to saxophonist Lester Young. Byron is a prolific musician who gets inspiration from all kinds of music. One of Byron's most-played recordings is Bug Music, heard, among other places, on NPR.
Bandleader and clarinetist Artie Shaw died Dec. 29 at the age of 94, apparently of natural causes. In the 1930s and '40s, Shaw's band ranked with the Goodman, Dorsey and Miller bands in popularity. But he largely rejected pop tunes and stuck with music by composers like Porter, Gershwin and Berlin. We remember Shaw.
Clarinetist Ken Peplowski. The 40-year old jazz musician, has been playing the instrument since the age of 7, and went on to play in Benny Goodman's last band, and in the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra (led by Buddy Morrow). Peplowski influences include Goodman, saxophonist Sonny Stitt, the Beatles, and Ornette Coleman He launched a successful solo career in the early 1980s and now has 16 albums to his credit. His latest is "Ken Peplowski: Last Swing of the Century-Big Band Music of Benny Goodman" (Concord Jazz).
Clarinetist, jazz musician, and klezmer virtuoso Don Byron. He's an unlikely candidate to play klezmer, a product of Eastern European Yiddish culture: Byron is African American and dreadlocked. Byron has become best known for klezmer, but musically he's all over the map: He plays jazz with his Don Byron Quintet, modern classical music with the Semaphore quintet, and he toured Europe last fall with Music for Six Musicians, an Afro-Cuban ensemble. He's also currently writing a classical piece for the avant-garde Kronos Quartet.
Clarinetist Don Byron. Byron's black, but he plays klezmer, the music created from the mixture of American jazz and European jewish culture. Byron's an alumnus of the Klezmer Conservatory Band, and he performs on a new anthology album called "Live At The Knitting Factory." It's on A&M records.
Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews clarinetist John Carter's new album, "Shadows on a Wall." The album concludes Carter's 5 album musical saga of the African-American experience. Kevin says the series doesn't recreate history, but it DOES reimagine it.
Jazz composer/clarinetist John Carter. He has just completed a five part music series chronicling the black migration experience from Africa to America: "Roots and Folklore: Episodes in the Development of American Folk Music. The final program in the series, "Shadows on A Wall," premiered recently as part of the New Wave Festival at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The festival celebrates performers working on the edge of classical, rock, and jazz styles. Carter's performances are also out on disc.
Jazz Critic Kevin Whitehead reviews "Bayou Magic," a new album by clarinetist Alvin Batiste. Since the 50s, Batiste has been a key figure in the modern jazz movement in New Orleans. Under the auspices of the State Department, he has toured the world extensively, and is also a teacher at Southern University in Baton Rouge, where his students have included Branford Marsalis and Donald Harrison.