Without going overseas to pad the list (Don Byron, Buddy DeFranco or Ken Peplowski may win some stateside polls and honors; Antti Sarpila and Putte Wickman won’t), one can count the number of outstanding contemporary Jazz clarinetists on the fingers of one hand. One of the best of them is Eddie Daniels, heir–apparent in the Goodman / DeFranco / Tony Scott dynasty of unvarnished swingers who pays earnest homage to the instrument’s heyday on Swing Low Sweet Clarinet, ably supported by Germany’s world–class Frankfurt Radio (hr) Big Band. Daniels is no stranger to large ensembles, having spent half a dozen years as a sideman (mainly on tenor sax) in the Thad Jones–Mel Lewis Orchestra and recorded previously with the Jazz Arts Group of Columbus, OH, and even the London Philharmonic Orchestra. He’s right at home here too, deftly weaving his spellbinding phrases through and around the hr band’s tailor–made arrangements (including two by Jazzmeister Peter Herbolzheimer). Daniels opens with a tune closely associated with clarinetist Artie Shaw, Cole Porter’s “Begin the Beguine,” and closes with a Goodman classic, Louis Prima’s “Sing, Sing, Sing” (performed in concert, with drummer Wolfgang Haffner depping admirably for Gene Krupa). Sandwiched between are studio versions of Goodman’s haunting theme song, “Goodbye,” and two more of the King of Swing’s memorable hits, “Stompin’ at the Savoy” and “Stardust,” along with former employer Thad Jones’ “Three in One,” Denny Zeitlin’s “Quiet Now,” and a pair of Daniels’ own compositions, the Swing Era–style “Stride Rite” (which suggests at times the standard “This Is Always”) and the sunny “Waltz for Marabai.” If Daniels has an Achilles heel, it may be that he makes playing virtuosic clarinet seem so preposterously easy. Because of this, he sounds deceptively laid–back and is open to the charge (which has been made) that he is short on soul. To lay that accusation to rest, simply listen to “Sing, Sing, Sing.” Comparatively speaking, the other selections may sound almost nonchalant, but on the other hand you’ll seldom hear a clarinet played any better. Toss in the hr Big Band as a bonus and slap a “Grade A” label on this one.
Track Listing: Begin the Beguine; Stompin
Personnel: Eddie Daniels, clarinet, with the Frankfurt Radio (hr) Big Band, Kurt Bong, conductor; Harry Petersen, Heinz Dieter Sauerborn, alto sax; Wilson de Oliveira, Tony Lakatos, tenor sax; John Oslawski, baritone sax; Paul Lanzerath, Martin Auer, Alexandre Molempr
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.