Clarinet Central is a site that focuses primarily on legendary Philly Orchestra clarinetist, Ralph McLane. Known for his exquisite sound, McLane’s recordings during his brief time with the Philly Orchestra (1943-1951) have become great examples of the beauty one can elicit from a clarinet. This site is replete with biographical information and audio tracks of Mclean. It also offers historical information on the history of the clarinet; embouchure & technique; a discussion with audio tracks of the “Philadelphia sound, including a page devoted to Tabuteau;” a page devoted to mouthpieces and refacing; and a store where the newly re-released Louis Desantis book “New Studies for Clarinet” is available. There are other links throughout the site that a clarinet nerd might find enticing but the real treasure here is hearing Mclean in all his glory days.
My friend, the legendary alto saxophonist Charles McPherson, will be celebrating his 80th birthday on 7/24/19. In his honor, the Wood-Link of this Month is devoted to Charles and his magnificent career. Respected by saxophonists and jazz lovers throughout the world, Charles has continued to evolve as a musician throughout a 60-year career. He is a wonderful composer, and music educator in addition to his prowess on the saxophone. A quiet and shy individual, he is equally modest about his abilities and accomplishments. These qualities have endeared him to his friends, colleagues and jazz devotees. You will find his website very informative with a bio, complete discography, up-to-date info on his appearances performing & teaching, videos, photos and a store. Treat yourself to a truly special musician and person by getting to know Charles McPherson a little better though this website and buy his music!
The ICA is an international organization open to all serious lovers of the clarinet—laymen, students, teachers, & professional players. The ICA began in the 1960s in the US through the efforts of several university professors and took root as the International Clarinet Society in 1973. Since then, it has evolved and become the largest and most popular association serving clarinetists worldwide. Its annual Conference is among the best attended of any music business gathering. This year’s annual conference—ClarinetFest 2019—is in Knoxville, Tenn from 7/24—7/28. For its members, the ICA generates a quarterly journal that is highly informative and well written and available both in hard copy and online; sponsors numerous competitions for all ages; makes available its extensive archive collection; and offers links to other clarinet organizations, commercial clarinet companies, instrument insurance, clarinet competitions worldwide, and job offerings. Membership for students and senior citizens is as low as $35/yr and $50/yr for adults. This year’s Conference features numerous performances, masterclasses, competitions, and a terrific exhibitors display where one can find anything and everything imaginable for clarinet. Even if you can’t attend the Conference, the Journal and the access to the ICA archives are enough reason to join.
Bret Pimentel is a multi-woodwind instrumentalist who teaches at Delta State University in Mississippi. He has authored a popular book for teaching woodwinds entitled “Woodwind Basics,” which can be purchased through his site. Bret’s website is an extensive one and largely devoted to woodwind doubling. It includes listings of all Broadway musicals—those originating on Broadway as well as those on tour—and the breakdown of the woodwind books associated with each production; woodwind blogs with links to each of them; college and university degree programs in woodwind doubling for the prospective student; and music involving doubling. One of the most useful aspects of this website are the numerous Posts that one can access broken into categories such as “By Instrument,” “By Category,” and “By Popular Tag.” There is so much information on this site that you will want to make some part of it a daily practice. As someone who has devoted most of my life to this discipline, I appreciate it and the work that Bret has put into this greatly
This month’s Wood-Link of the month is a departure from the norm in that it focuses on a violinist who was perhaps the greatest instrumentalist of the 20th century—Jascha Heifetz. The name Heifetz is understood in musical circles to represent the gold standard for a performer—perfection, integrity, total commitment to the composer’s wishes, and genius. During his 65-year public career, Heifetz performed on every continent and to a greater audience than any classical instrumentalist in history. He also emphasized chamber music as part of the complete musician’s life, recording extensively with other legends including Piatigorsky, Rubinstein, and Feuermann, thereby helping to promote this repertoire. A wonderful pianist, ping pong/tennis player, cook, teacher, and social activist (he and his students at USC protested smog by wearing gas masks; he converted his Renault passenger car into an electric vehicle; he led efforts to establish 911 as an emergency number, etc.). Heifetz even dabbled in composing pop tunes of the day under the name Jim Hoyl. Any musician should be aware of the magnificence that Heifetz brought to his performances and recordings. This website offers every opportunity for the student of music to learn about this legend through all of the currently available recordings, DVD’s, sheet music editions by Heifetz, and books devoted to his life. In Heifetz’ words: “You must preserve your enthusiasm for playing. Loss of that enthusiasm is deadly to musicianship.”
The New York Flute Club is the oldest continuously operating flute club in the world. They will be celebrating their 100th anniversary on the last day of this year. Started by the eminent flutist/composer/conductor Georges Barrère, the Club functions in many capacities: great flute artists are presented in recital throughout the year; there is an annual Flute Fair; ensemble programs and competitions are sponsored throughout the year; a monthly newsletter is sent to all members; educational & enrichment programs are supported within the greater NYC area; new flute music is commissioned; and various publications and recordings are made available. Included among the performers on this year’s concert series are Aaron Goldman (principal flute-National Symphony), Karl-Heinz Schütz (principal flute-Vienna Philharmonic), and Jeffrey Khaner (principal flute-Philadelphia Orchestra). This year’s Flute Fair is on Sunday, March 17, 2019 from 8:30am—8:00pm at Columbia University. The featured artist will be Jeffrey Khaner: www.Joffewoodwinds.com/videos/jeffrey-khaner-principal-flute. Annual membership in the club is $70, $40 for students & seniors.
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!