The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra has been the most important and influential jazz big band for the last half-century. Formerly known as the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra and then the Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra, this group of world-class jazz musicians plays every Monday night at the world’s most famous jazz club, The Village Vanguard in NYC. The band will be celebrating its 53rd anniversary from 2/11/19–2/18/19 at the Vanguard. Their website offers a great deal of information on the band, their recordings, performance videos, and much more. You can also connect to their Facebook page through this site for additional videos and information. For an intimate look at the members of the VJO sax section, please go to the Videos page of the Woodwind Legacy Series on this website.
The January 2019 featured site is dedicated to the YouTube video channel of clarinetist William (Tom) Ridenour. After selecting this link, hit the “Video” link at the top of his YouTube Home page. His collection of over 100 video segments, dedicated to every aspect of clarinet playing including upkeep, repair, and performance, is presented in a very straight-forward manner by one of the most knowledgeable clarinet professionals in the world today. No stone is left unturned in these videos. Mr. Ridenour is well known for his invaluable book: Clarinet Fingerings—A Comprehensive Guide for the Performer and Educator (2000). It is the single best book on this topic and should be in every serious clarinetist’s possession. These videos add to the legacy that Mr. Ridenour has established as an educator; builder/designer/ innovator of clarinets; and performer. The viewer should also check out his website for more information about Ridenour products at: www.ridenourclarinetproducts.com.
This is a website entitled, Marcel Tabuteau First-Hand. It is one of the most important sites on the Internet for all woodwind players and really for any musician. This year marks the 131st anniversary of the birth of Marcel Tabuteau, one of the most important oboists of the 20th century and certainly one of the most influential teachers of the oboe and how to phrase music. He was the leader of the great woodwind section of the Philadelphia Orchestra during his tenure there (1915-1954) and helped initiate the principles in music-making that were taught to all students at the Curtis Institute of Music throughout the 20th Century. The site is replete with information not only about Tabuteau, his methods for phrasing, and his teaching philosophy, but also includes audio tracks of him performing as well as performances by some of the student chamber ensembles. (Some of the students heard on these tracks include Julius Baker, Albert Tipton, Bernard Portnoy, Ralph Gomberg, John de Lancie, Manuel Zegler, James Chambers, Mason Jones, Sanford Sharoff, Harry Shulman, Jorge Bolet, etc. The recorded excerpts can be found on the “Recordings” page.) One will spend many hours on this site realizing how much there is to learn about making music at the highest level.
Clarineat.com is a site of podcasts with a wide assortment of guests from the world of clarinet and the recording industry. Sean Perrin, the creator of Clarineat, is a young clarinetist from Canada who is always exploring new avenues of performance, blogging, and social media. An active performer and clinician, he has still managed to record over 90 podcasts in the past several years and is an avid promoter of new music and new equipment as well. This is definitely a site to check out for all clarinetists and woodwind players.
30sjazz.com is devoted to instrumental & vocal jazz music performed by musicians who first came to prominence largely in the 1930s. A new selection is featured every day with either a video or simply an audio track.The musical performances run from the 1930s-1960s. Jazzonthetube.com sponsors this site. Many neglected artists are featured along with recordings that are less familiar to the typical listener. There is a great deal to learn about this period of swing music and essential to young players, since colleges rarely program this music for students to perform. While a free link to the music is provided, donations are encouraged. It’s wonderful to wake up each morning to hear some wonderful music awaiting you on your computer, tablet or iPhone. Highly recommended!
Brad Behn is the principal clarinetist of the Oklahoma City Symphony and an esteemed mouthpiece maker in the clarinet world. Having grown up in New England where he heard Harold Wright as a youngster and then having studied with Robert Marcellus at Northwestern, he brings a great deal of knowledge, insight and flexibility to the world of clarinet mouthpiece manufacturing. His site, clarinetmouthpiece.com, includes a great deal of historical information; tips for maintaining and improving one’s mouthpieces, horns and performance; as well as a detailed explanation of the process he goes through to produce his unique rod rubber mouthpieces. He also sells his own reeds, barrels & bells and offers quality ligatures (Bay & Ishimori) and cork great (Sawicki). This is a must-see for anyone interested in clarinet, even if you do not play any of Brad’s equipment! After viewing Brad’s site, you might want to see my video interview with him on this website: http://joffewoodwinds.com/videos/brad-behn-clarinet-mouthpiece-innovator.
Keith Bradbury was a process engineer in the glass industry for 28 years before retiring a number of years ago. A saxophonist who also plays clarinet and flute, he has always been fascinated by mouthpiece refacing and has used his scientific background along with state-of-the-art tools to uncover many of the mysteries of saxophone mouthpieces. His website mojomp.com is an extension of his Mouthpiece Work Forum on the Internet and he has many terrific videos where he shows exactly what he does to help restore a mouthpiece and help it reach its full potential. After viewing the videos currently available on the website, you will also want to look at his YouTube channel to see his full repertoire of videos. Keith does not try to keep “secrets.” He’s always willing to share his knowledge and this site should be an inspiration for other woodwind technicians to do likewise. Every saxophone player will learn something from this man and his work.
Windsongpress.com was started over 20 years ago by students of Arnold Jacobs. Mr. Jacobs was not only the esteemed tuba player with the Chicago Symphony, but also the most renowned teacher of how to use air in the most efficient manner in order to produce a musical sound. Here, one can find wonderful videos of Jacobs teaching; tracks of him performing; articles on the breathing process; and videos that show exactly how the various muscles in the body react during inhalation & exhalation. One can also purchase materials that Jacobs used with his students to demonstrate and improve their breath control including the breathing bag, breath builder, inspiron, voldyne, etc. Also available are the books compiled by his students of Jacobs’ teachings. This site is a must for any wind player.
The Robert Marcellus Masterclasses are some of the most valuable web pages on the Internet, in my opinion. Robert Marcellus was the esteemed principal clarinet with the Cleveland Orchestra during the era of George Szell. He was also renowned as a teacher and spent many years as the clarinet professor at the Cleveland Institute of Music and then Northwestern University. During the summers of 1974-1987, he gave special masterclasses at Northwestern that were open to outsiders as well. This archive has 64 masterclasses with 180 hours of audio tracks recorded between 1977-1990. You will hear various players performing etudes & orchestral excerpts, concerts by guest professionals (Jazz clarinetist Ron Odrich is featured prominently), and commentary by clarinet colleagues of Marcellus. There are moments where Marcellus (who was virtually blind during much of this period) plays and sounds even better than he did in the orchestra—hard to believe but true! Throughout these classes, he offers commentary on the students’ performances and clarinet playing in general which are wonderful. This is a must for any clarinetist.
Jazzwax.com is a particularly educational site with new postings everyday. Marc Myers, award-winning music and arts writer for the Wall Street Journal, runs this blog. The site is 11 years old and features interesting topics, 90% of which are jazz related. Mr. Myers’ writing style and passion for his subject matters make this site a necessity for all musicians. Mr. Myers is the author of two outstanding books: “Why Jazz Happened” and “Anatomy of a Song.” JazzWax has received the Jazz Journalists Award three times in recent years as the “Blog of the Year,” including the 2018 award. The yearly cost to subscribe is well worth it!