Thursday, June 28, 2012

Ten Essential Jazz Clarinet Recordings (5)

5. Edmond Hall * Profoundly Blue

In a rare case of mutual admiration among jazz clarinetists, Benny Goodman once referred to Edmond Hall as his favorite hot jazz clarinetist; a compliment which was reciprocated by Hall. It's difficult to appreciate this statement today. Benny had heard his style flooded by a sea of imitators throughout his career (even now there are plenty riding the Benny train). At least one of the players on this list was an admitted imitator of Goodman, in part: many of Pete Fountain's standard gig numbers were drawn directly and almost without alteration from Benny's versions. Pete never hid this influence, and it doesn't detract from his own unique approach, though it does demonstrates the dominance of Goodman's approach.

When it came time for the King of Swing to endorse another player, he chose one of the most original in the history of jazz: a New Orleans clarinetist known for his work with traditional groups (including Louis Armstrong, with whom he is most associated), yet who branched out into the High Romantic Era of Swing Clarinet, allowing himself to be influenced by Goodman and Artie Shaw.

It's this combination that makes Hall so indispensible, and my favorite of the New Orleans players. He managed to take that NOLA talking style of playing, and advance it beyond classic into romantic era jazz, giving us something profoundly different from those who came before him, yet with the same warmth.

Every time Hall plays, heat seems the result--a sweltering, humid, sauna of sound. Profoundly Blue is an excellent compilation album, and worthy introduction to his work.


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