Life Lessons in Music: Learning to Play the Clarinet

King Olivers Creole Jazz Band
King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band

About ten years ago, I discovered 1920s and 1930s traditional jazz. The mix of┬ácornet, trombone, and clarinet with the piano, string bass, and guitar (or tenor banjo) was exhilarating. I was already familiar with the clarinet from listening to Benny Goodman and his big band swing of the 1940s, but when I heard the New Orleans hot jazz sounds of Sidney Bechet, I thought, wow, this instrument doesn’t just make music…it sings right through your soul. It’s that feeling that makes the hair stand up on your arms and a tickle run down your spine.

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