Clarinets are Cool!
Traditional "Dixieland" Jazz
This is an early form of jazz, as practiced in New Orleans and elsewhere prior to the development of the big bands. It evolved from the structure of 19th century European band music, and the character of African-American folk music. The music is almost entirely improvised over the form of the song being played, and written arrangements are generally not used. Each instrument has a fairly specific role to play and this role-playing keeps the musicians from excessively duplicating their efforts. As jazz goes, it's fairly easy to play, and I've run into a number of teenage groups on the web.
The music derives the name 'Dixieland' from the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, which began recording the music around 1917. Leader/Trumpeter Nick LaRocca made claims to have originated it, as did characters like Jelly Roll Morton, but the music evolved in the cultural melting pot of New Orleans.
Although there are some sad songs and blues, this is generally a very happy and festive sounding music. Bands like these are probably the single best venue for a clarinetist in popular music. Famous big band musicians like Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw cut their early teeth in these kinds of bands.
Instrumentation and Instrument Roles
Trumpet - Responsible for stating the melody in the first and last choruses of the song.
Clarinet - May harmonize with the trumpet (usually from above) or 'noodle' other figures above the melody. A special school of clarinet playing, known as the Creole school is associated with this style of music.
Trombone - Generally provides low countermelodies, or may harmonize with the trumpet or double the bass line
Tenor Sax - An additional instrument for harmony and countermelodies. Not generally characteristic of New Orleans groups, but associated more with the later "Chicago Style" which featured more mapped out arrangements, and further developments leading towards the Big Band era.
Banjo/Guitar/Piano - Afterbeats. Primary responsibility is hit chords on beats 2 & 4.
Bass - Bass line. Usually with a 2-beat feel (sounding on beats 1 & 3) Can be a string bass, tuba or whatever
Drums - Normal drum duties. Keep time and provide fills and kicks.
Traditional Jazz Clarinetists:
Pete Fountain - Probably the best known of them all, thanks to his stint on the Lawrence Welk Show.
Dr. Michael White - Today's best-known traditionalist.
Tim Laughlin - A terrific player who did a long stint with the Dukes of Dixieland
Traditional Jazz Bands:
The Dukes of Dixieland - The most enduring of the Post WWII 'revival' bands.
Preservation Hall - The most famous venue--and the most famous house band--in New Orleans
Woody Allen and his New Orleans Jazz Band - Film icon Woody Allen has his own band--featured in the movie Wild Man Blues
Music for Bands
Normally this music is played by ear or from lead sheets, but there are collections of arrangements for those wishing something more organized, or who just want to dip their toes in the water. Most folios are for 7 or 8 instruments. (Trumpet, Clarinet, Trombone, Tenor Sax, Piano, Guitar, Bass & Drums)
Dixieland Beat (Hal Leonard)
Heart of Dixieland (Hansen)
Music for Individual Instruments
Dixieland Jam (Hal Leonard) - CD play-along set for various solo instruments.
Alfred's Solo Tracks: Dixieland by Michael Garson (Alfred) - very good books which also explain the instrument's specific role in the music
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