Art Pepper and the Clarinet - JazzWax

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June 15, 2011


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Fans of Charlie Sheen should check out Art's rant in part 3, from 12:36-13:14. Amazing. I was also reminded of a photograph, in a recent edition of the Wall Street Journal, of rock vocalist Robert Plant allegedly proclaiming "I am a golden god!" Of course you're only a god until the coke wears off.

Bill Kirchner

An interesting piece, and trust me, I know about what Pepper spoke of re miking and hearing yourself on clarinet in a gig situation. It's the bane of all jazz clarinet players' existences. Kenny Davern, for one, refused to use mikes at all and stubbornly played acoustically--not always a realistic solution.

It's too bad that Pepper didn't play the clarinet more. He actually was quite good--that is, within certain technical limitations common to doublers whose primary instrument is saxophone. As were his contemporaries Gerry Mulligan, Gene Quill, and Al Cohn. (Phil Woods, though, was a clarinet major at Juilliard and has more chops on the instrument.)

James Cimarusti

Art Pepper can also be heard on clarinet on the alternate takes of "Walkin'" on the "Art Pepper + 11" CD issue. "Combo" is also one of my favorite albums. I wish Mancini had done more with this line up and have always wondered how Art got involved with this project since he is the only non-Mancini regular on the recording. Whatever the case, I'm glad he was involved because it gives us more of his wonderful clarinet playing. (Maybe John Williams and/or Dick or Ted Nash can supply an answer).

Fredrik Stenmark

Art Pepper swung more and had more emotional expression than 99 % of the other established players. This goes for his clarinet-playing too! "When You're Smiling" from the 1981 album "Roadgame" is a great example.

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  • Marc Myers writes regularly for The Wall Street Journal and is author of "Anatomy of 55 More Songs," "Anatomy of a Song," "Rock Concert: An Oral History" and "Why Jazz Happened." Founded in 2007, JazzWax has won three Jazz Journalists Association awards.
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