In the primitive jazz of New Orleans, the clarinet was marking the contrast between the trumpet and the trombonist, the two most important melodic instruments, but it was in the age of the swing, that the jazz enjoyed a commercial success which he never would enjoy again, when it found its epoch of major splendor the clarinet. Alphonse Picou was the first clarinettist of New Orleans that marked a style with its alone famous person on the topic High Society, known by practically all the later clarinettists. George Lewis, also of New Orleans, was another important clarinettist of this first stage of development of the instrument, as Jimmie Noone, Johnny Dodds and – especially – Sidney Bechet.
Noone acquired reputation for the delicacy of its sound, Doods – the favorite clarinettist of Louis Armstrong – was possessing, on the other hand, a wilder sound, dominating especially the serious records of the instrument, while Bechet was a teacher of the expressiveness, first with the clarinet and then with the saxophone soprano. Albert Nicholas proceeding also from New Orleans stood out for its skill and its imagination, patent still in him at advanced age, and along with Omer Simeon and Barney Bigard it forms the one that Berendt designates like the “third generation in the history of the clarinet of jazz”.
The clarinettist Sidney Bechet in a concert in New York.
Between the white clarinettists of New Orleans there emphasized Leon Rappolo de la New Orleans Rhythm Kings – a band composed entirely by white musicians – who marked a style that was continued by musicians of the style Chicago like Frank Teschemacher, Jimmy Dorsey y Pee Wee Russell. The first one had a big influence in Benny Goodman, the second one jumped to the reputation at the head of its band, and the third one, with a style that he was reminding to that of Chet Baker. was called “the poet of the clarinet”
During the decade of Benny Goodman arises one of the most popular clarinettists in the history of the jazz, and the musician to whom it assumes that the clarinet and the swing go indissolubly close. The expressiveness and the wealth of ideas of Goodman, devoid of the harmonic and technical details of more modern musicians, placed it like the most important of the clarinettists of its time, and today its influence is still notable. Artie Shaw y Woody Herman they put the clarinet at the head of its bands, and Jimmy Hamilton, Buster Bailey and Edmond Hall accused also straight the influence of Goodman.
Buddy DeFranco was according to Berendt the best clarinettist of those who emerged during the decade of, but by that time the age of the swing had come to its end and the instrument had seen drastically reduced its popularity Known like “Charlie Parker of the clarinet, since the revolution that it carried out in its instrument was of dimensions similar to the one that Parker carried out with the tall saxo, Buddy De Franco was not nevertheless the first clarinettist in touching bop in its instrument: before him, the Swedish Stan Hasselgård, the only clarinettist who could be employed next to Benny Goodman at its band, had opened this field, but its early death in traffic accident truncated a career that could have exercised a notable influence.
Always unpredictable Jimmy Giuffre began its career in the middle of the decade of, and its warmth was contrasting straight with the “coldness” of Buddy DeFranco. John LaPorta and Sam Most led to the clarinet to unexplored sonic territories, bringing its sound over to that of the flute, while the German Rolf Kühn and the American Tony Scott continued the tradition of the instrument during the decade. From, the sound of the jazz had changed, and it was not easy for the clarinettists to find its place in bent and you orchestrate. Eric Dolphy broke the situation introducing the low clarinet to use it like an authentic jazz instrument. The Dolphy skill did school, and soon the whole series of musicians arose that there continued the open footpath, like the Dutch Willem Breuker, the Englishman John Surman, the German Gunter Hampel, the inhabitant of Luxembourg Michel Pilz, the Frenchman Michel Portal and the Italian Gianluigi Trovesi, as well as the Americans Douglas Ewart, L. D. Levy, Walter Zuber Armstrong and David Murray.
The entry of the decade of Rhasaan Roland Kirk and the virtuoso Eddie Daniels supposed a new propulsion for the instrument, with the appearance of Bobby Jones. Tom Scott and Alvin Batiste emphasized in the field of the jazz merger, while Anthony Braxton, John Carter, Michael Lytle and Perry Robertson did the proper thing in the world of the free jazz. Finally, between the most important contemporary clarinettists there stands out Perry Robinson, a musician who synthesizes very diverse styles in a versatile universal music.