Jim Snyder

You gotta stay home. Camps are closed. Concerts are canceled. Vacations are now staycations.

I’m sure with the demands for housework, yardwork, and online schoolwork, you expect me to insist that you take this time to practice. But I’m not gonna do that. Instead, I’m gonna suggest you find a comfy place to sit and watch videos—not just any videos but videos of outstanding clarinetists from the past and present.

If you don’t know which performers to seek out, don’t worry. I’ve done the work for you.
You may sense my bias toward certain styles of playing, but know that this list is just a sampling of artists whose work I admire.

Yes, you can buy their recordings—and I recommend that you do—but seeing a performer live with no chance to correct anything can be very rewarding.

Let’s start with the first name out of everybody’s mouth when mentioning the clarinet—Benny Goodman. Check out his quartet performing “I Got Rhythm” in 1959.

Then search for the masterful Eddie Daniels performing with “The Tonight Show Band” in 1987.

Listen to Anat Cohen, who was born and raised in Israel, perform “China Boy.” She has a huge, warm sound with tons of personality.

Now watch the late, great Pete Fountain, who represented New Orleans to many fans, in his 1979 appearance with the Boston Pops.

New Orleans-stylist Evan Christopher shows that the finger velocity on an Albert system clarinet can be just as easy as the Boehm system that you and I play in his rendition of “When I Grow Too Old to Dream” during the 2014 Jazz in Marciac festival.

And speaking of New Orleans, Doreen Ketchens proves that real talent doesn’t need a concert hall to shine. You can check out several of her Sidewalk Sessions in the French Quarter. I especially like her performance of “Mardi Gras in New Orleans.”

Next time you do a clarinet ensemble, remember Martin Fröst’s rendition of “Armando’s Rhumba” that he performed with several other clarinetists.

There are so many more players out there to inspire us. You have time right now, so why not go

About author

Jim Snyder

Jim Snyder is a clarinetist from Orlando, Fla. Though primarily known as a jazz musician, his extensive career has put him in every musical place you’d expect to hear a clarinet—and in some you wouldn’t! Jim played for many years in New Orleans with trumpet virtuoso Al Hirt and is currently a staff musician at Walt Disney World. A Yamaha Performing Artist, he travels the United States as a soloist and clinician. Visit his website at www.theclarinetguy.com.

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