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January 20, 2011


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Larry Kart

Mark -- You write "Scott's attack on the clarinet grew more frantic and flat in the '50s as he tried to keep pace with new classical styles that emerged"?

What "new classical styles" would those be? I'm unaware of any significant shift in style among classical clarinet players in the '50s. If, instead, you mean classical compositions of the '50s in which there were prominent parts for clarinet that were "frantic and flat," and that these works had an influence on Scott, some names please.

Yes, Scott did have a connection with the great composer Stefan Wolpe (as did Johnny Carisi, Eddie Sauter, and Bill Finegan), but I think Scott was quite capable of sounding rather frantic and thin-toned on his own hook.
Nor IMO is that an accurate description of anything that Wolpe himself wrote for clarinet.

Steve Provizer

Sweet Georgia Brown...To my ears, Scott is playing swing here, not bop.


"Scott's attack on the clarinet grew more frantic and flat in the '50s as he tried to keep pace with new modernist elements that were emerging. The shift left his tone more halting and colorless.". A generalization, surely. Pick up 1956's "Both Sides of Tony Scott". As TS states in the liner notes: "I like to play ballads simply, to give them a warm quality. The clarinet hasn't been used much on ballads because it's basically a cold instrument. But from listening to the way Ben [Webster] plays tenor, I think I've learned how to give it warmth".

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  • Marc Myers writes on music and the arts for The Wall Street Journal. He is author of "Why Jazz Happened" (Univ. of Calif. Press). Founded in 2007, JazzWax was named the 2015 "Blog of the Year" by the Jazz Journalists Association.
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