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Clarinet Marmalade: A celebration of 24 great vintage jazz clarinettists 1918-1962



Retrospective offers a cavalcade of, arguably, the 24 greatest vintage jazz clarinettists from the first 45 years of recorded jazz history. From Larry Shields and the Original Dixieland Jazz Band in 1918 through to the peerless George Lewis in Burgundy Street Blues in 1962, a representative performance from each clarinet master has been carefully selected. Seldom could a jazz history lesson pass by so enjoyably as you sample the widely varying playing styles of such influential virtuosi as Benny Goodman, Sidney Bechet, Artie Shaw, Johnny Dodds and so many others. The musical moods could hardly be more contrasted, from the smooth velvet of Artie Shaw’s September Song to the frankly incredible Man With A Horn Goes Berserk from the redoubtable Buster Bailey. So many treats: just listen for instance to the gorgeous tone of Irving Fazola on My Inspiration. The Union Jack is flown by three distinctive English instrumentalists: Sid Phillips (I Got Rhythm), Monty Sunshine (Wild Cat Blues) and Acker Bilk (Creole Jazz).

Clarinet Marmalade: A celebration of 24 great vintage jazz clarinettists 1918-1962


This is an agreeable concept, taking 24 examples of the jazz clarinettists art through the decades to construct an entertaining programme featuring the top players at their best. Incredibly, the opening track, CLARINET MARMALADE, which gives the collection its title, was recorded nearly 100 years ago, July 17, 2018 to be precise, and features Larry Shields with the Original Dixieland Jazz Band. Moving forward into the twenties, we hear Johnny Dodds, Omar Simeon, Jimmy Dorsey, Jimmy Noone and Frank Teschemacher. Into the thirties there's Pee Wee Russell, Irving Fazola, Buster Bailey and of course Benny Goodman. Predominantly American jazzmen are featured, but Britain's Sid Phillips is included with I GOT RHYTHM, which also features a very young George Shearing from 1940. That decade of course belonged to the likes of Woody Herman and Artie Shaw but also featured are Sidney Bechet, Barney Bigard, Jimmy Hamilton, Edmond Hall, Matty Matlock and Peanuts Hucko. More British talents in the shape of Monty Sunshine and Acker Bilk, together with the emerging Pete Fountain and the veteran George Lewis round off this collection, which provides 78 minutes of first class jazz.  Gerry Stonestreet, June in Tune

Clarinet Marmalade or ‘From Larry Shields to Acker Bilk’. Either way, this traditional clarinet compilation serves up what it calls a cavalcade of 24 masters of jazz history, though given the geographical origin of the label three British players have slipped into the pantheon. After Buster Bailey’s virtuoso arabesques on a rather tasteless Tiger Rag rehash called Man with a Horn Goes Berserk (amen to that) – during which Frankie Newton and Pete Brown twiddle their musical thumbs – it’s on to Bigard and the Duke on the relaxing A Lull at Dawn. Inevitably Bechet’s Blue Horizon is here but it’s good to hear Jimmy Hamilton (pre-Duke in 1941), with Teddy Wilson, the effervescent Artie Shaw with fantastic solos from Hank Jones and guitarist Joe Puma, and Matty Matlock, elegance personified on When it’s Sleepy Time Down South. There’s Edmond Hall to admire, a live Albert Nicholas in Copenhagen, Pete Fountain in LA, George Lewis’s Burgundy Street Blues (the Atlantic version from 1961) and the trio of British players – Sid Phillips – hugely underrated – Acker and Monty Sunshine, the last named with Barber in – no, not Petite Fleur but Wild Cat Blues. This is an enjoyable, not wholly predictable selection of players: you can fight with the compilers if your favourite is missing (Sidney Arodin, Willie Joseph, for me – you’ll have your own players) but you’ll nevertheless enjoy the selections, booklet notes and good transfers. MusicWeb-International