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Scribbling in the night, listening to jazz clarinet

I'm listening to a Buddy DeFanco AAC I got off of iTunes, from a birthday gift certificate scored from my friend Bruce that I'm slowly depleting. It's pretty fucking cool -- riffs off of "I'm Glad There Is You" and "There's No You," which if you think about it are two songs that were made to be mashed together by a sextet. I'm writing scripts for my comic strip sekret projekt, which features a jazz clarinetist.

I made her a clarinetist because my mother is a clarinetist. She's not a jazz musician, mind, but I felt a certain kinship to the clarinet based on... well, her existence. So I started doing research on clarinetists... but all the research seemed to tap out around 1945 or 1950. So I called my folks. My Dad mentioned Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw and Pete Fountain. And of course we have to mention Woody Allen, who plays Dixieland Jazz on Monday nights in New York, when he's available. It's why he perpetually missed the Oscars in the 70's and 80's. I mean, sure -- he could have accepted his Academy Award for Annie Hall in person, but damn it, he had a gig. And jazz gigs are hard to come by.

He then gave the phone to my mother. The very person who I decided to make the character a clarinetist for.

"Hey," she said.

"Hey," I said. "Tell me about Jazz Clarinet."

"It sucks," she said.

I kind of blinked. "Excuse me?"

"Jazz clarinet sucks. Oh, Dixieland is okay. The same way Jazz Banjo is okay in Dixieland. And maybe some Swing."

"I hate Dixieland Jazz," I said.

"There you go," she said. "You want a good Jazz instrument? The kind of thing you'd hear Dave Brubeck put his piano talents with? Go with flute."

"Nah," I said. "I never cared for flute."


"She's a street musician. Keyboards would be a pain in the ass. And don't say saxophone. Talk about clichÈ..."

"All right. Go with Trumpet. Or flugel. Or cornet. Those are good jazz instruments."

"Yeah. Definitely. Still... that's so common. This character's kind of weird anyway."

My mother laughed. "Then make her a clarinetist who's at the forefront of a new jazz movement. It's a comic strip, Eric. If you tell the audience she sounds good, she officially sounds good. No one's going to say she doesn't."

My mother's a smart woman.

Besides, since then I found Buddy DeFranco. And that's good enough for me.


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Being a clarinetist myself, here's a name for you: Eddie Daniels. Check my URL/name thingy for more info.

...or not. hmm.


It could be an ukelele. You can't never be wrong with an ukelele, kings of instrument comedy...

...I should definitely stop drinking coffee :P

I'm a clarinetist to. I do jazz. I don't suck. So there.

- Z

Arrrgh. Make that "too."

So much for my claim that I don't suck....

- Z

Are you calling my mother a liar?

(Actually, I've been listening to Eddie Daniels all morning, thanks to Plaid Phantom. So I'm pretty solid on that.)

The question is, what style of jazz do you do, Zeke?

What about Sidney Bechet? Is he too Dixieland?

I guess, when I think about it I don't know a lot of standalone jazz clarinetists either. I can think of bands, large and small, that use the clarinet, but generally only as a backup sound.

I have heard some of Woody Allen's stuff (via an interesting documentary I caught on the Sundance channel or IFC or something) that was pretty good, but everything I remember him playing were covers.

The question is, what style of jazz do you do, Zeke?

Well, for two years I was in CUJO, the Carleton University Jazz Orchestra. (Not to be confused with Andy's cat. Or the giant murderous dog. Or the goalie.) We were pretty much all over the map -- we did some old stuff and some new. Mingus was a favourite. I even arranged the Super Mario Bros. theme for us to do as a between-numbers gag.

I was very happy in Cujo. When I took up the clarinet in high school, my grandpa introduced me to his beloved 30s jazz, especially the great clarinetists of that era like Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw. But the jazz bands in my school never took clarinets, so it wasn't till university that I got to join one. I got to do lots of soloing... it was paradise.

One of these days I'll look into jazz bands here at Waterloo. I've just been too lazy so far. -- I mean, I've had too much work to do for my Master's. Yep.

(By the way, are you a Cockburn fan? My dad and I do a mean "Rouler sa Bosse," he on guitar and I on clarinet.)

- Z

Between this and the sestinas, your mom sounds pretty cool. Although I like jazz clarinet.

What about saxophone? Nothing sexier than a woman on a saxophone.

Is anything saxier than a woman on a sexophone?

- Z

"Sex"ophone? Talk about freudian slip...


Mr. Burns?

Do you like Brad Mehldau? He makes good music.

"Sex"ophone? Talk about freudian slip...

Why yes, that WAS the joke. Thank you for spelling it out for everyone. :)

- Z

Glad I was able to be of service. :)

Jazz clarinet is all well and good, but don't forget klezmer! It's a little jazzy, a little Old European, a lot Vaudeville. I recommend Naftuleh Brandwein in particular for some unique clarinet sounds.

I'm a klezmer junky! I'd take it over Dixieland any day of the week.

That being said, said character is not a klezmer fan. But she has reasons for that. And most of them have to do with being Jewish. ;)

Shaenon -- the only problem with saxaphone in the comic strip is... well, it's been done. A lot. So I'm kind of avoiding it.

The character (okay, her name's Trudy. Which shouldn't surprise anyone because there's been a Trudy in most of my projects going back to, oh, 1988 -- and no, she has nothing to do with GPF) is going to play clairnet, trumpet, flugel horn and piano. Sax wouldn't be hard to add, because of similarity in fingering to clarinet, but... well, her dance card's pretty full. There's a difference between being a prodigy and being unrealistic. ;)

Also, give Ken Peplowski a try--he play sax and clarinet, and I'm partial to his clarinet work. Dick Johnson's another multi-reed man, and his version of Dizzy Gillespie's "Shawnuff" with Dave McKenna on piano is one of the finest recordings of the past couple of decades.


Also, if you're looking for something a little "edgier," let me recommend Don Byron, though most of the cuts on his album "Bug Music" could've been recorded in the 30s and 40s...

Mike Again

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