At the prodding of a few close associates I've decided to start a blog centered around my obsession with all things clarinet. I'm particularly interested in the legacy of the clarinet as a genre crossing/busting vehicle.
Topic 1 - The tradition of multi-genre clarinetists
After exploring the music of many clarinetists often associated with creative improvised music I've noticed a pattern. Many clarinet players also explored musical forms beyond the traditional song form and they were interested in using tools more often associated with "classical" music.
While many instruments have the ability to fit in many different genres, there's something about the clarinet that attracts musicians who want to play a lot of different music and also many people who not only play different "styles" but also compose in a lot different "styles".
I've often wondered (in relation to the chicken vs. egg argument) what came first. The clarinet's amazing ability to be at home in a variety of world musics or is it something about the instrument that attracts the type of musical personality that has an affinity for exploring a lot of different musical territory?
I'll provide a few examples I've encountered and I would be happy to hear from anyone else who can provide other examples.
These are in no particular order:
1) Benny Goodman
While most people know his swing based music with small ensembles and big bands, Benny was quite a purveyor of "classical" music. Along with commissioning Aaron Copland, Bela Bartok, Malcolm Arnold and Morton Gould, Benny also recorded and performed the Mozart & Brahms quintets and many other well known clarinet pieces.
Here's a little wiki account - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benny_Goodman#Forays_into_classical_repertoire
Here's one of my favorite examples which features Benny playing with Bela Bartok and Josef Szigeti:
I'll follow up with further posts related to this topic that will include Buddy DeFranco, Bill Smith (William O. Smith), Jimmy Giuffre, Don Byron, Eddie Daniels and more. Please feel free to add to the list.