The Berlin Philharmonic’s Digital Concert Hall has been in existence since 2008. It was the first venture by a world-class orchestral organization to offer concerts, live and archival, through the medium of streaming. In addition to the roughly 40 live concerts/yr. that the site offers (they can be viewed at any time for as many times as desired when one is a subscriber), there are numerous other enticements that should interest any music lover. There are literally hundreds of archival concerts available that one can access by choosing the conductor, composer, soloist, genre, and/or season. Films and interviews with soloists or conductors are also available through this innovative website. The musical offerings can be heard/viewed on one’s TV, computer, tablet or smartphone and the video/audio resolution is spectacular. The cost, given the incredible amount of music that is available, is quite reasonable. A one-year subscription is roughly $169 or one can opt to buy a monthly, 30 day, or 7 day “ticket.” This format has been slowly adapted by some American orchestras during the pandemic and is likely to become the new norm in the orchestral world. Besides the fact that you get to listen to one of the greatest orchestras in the world whenever you choose, this is a great buy for the money and one that any serious musician should rush to purchase!
The Flute Journal is a site that features everything you could want to know about the flute. It encompasses every style of music in which the flute has played a vital role—meaning all musical styles—as well as information about flute makers, new products, health-related issues for flutists, and features on renowned flutists. Founded by flutist/author/ film & TV producer/musicologist Peter Westbrook, this valuable site provides the student as well as the professional with numerous articles, audio & video recordings, and information on performance practice. New materials are posted monthly and there’s always a surprise awaiting the follower. This month has a feature on “James Moody Plays The Blues” that comes with a video presentation of an incredible Moody solo with transcription attached. Also, don’t miss the wonderful film on the great Sam Most on the site: http://flutejournal.com/sam-most-jazz-flutist.
While there’s a heavy emphasis on jazz flute, all aspects of flute performance are treated with great reverence and thorough scholarship. For any serious flutist and woodwind doubler, this online location is a MUST!
“Jazz Video Guy” is Bret Primack’s YouTube channel dedicated to promoting jazz musicians and their music. A respected jazz journalist for many years, Mr. Primack’s love for jazz has resulted in the creation of this site beginning in 2006. Over these many years, he has recorded and presented interviews, performances and masterclasses with some of the greatest artists in the history of this music on his channel: Sonny Rollins, Joe Lovano, Horace Silver, Billy Taylor, Dave Liebman, Ernie Watts, Michael Brecker, Randy Brecker, Lee Konitz, McCoy Tyner, Bill Evans, Hal Galper, Jimmy Heath, Bob Mintzer, Johnny Griffin and Stan Getz, among others.
He also has expanded the offerings to include podcasts at: http://jazzvideoguylive.com/. Check out the many offerings that this site provides.
The Reed Well is a 12-sided glass that aids in the breaking-in and testing of reeds. It allows one to soak and maintain clarinet & saxophone cane reeds of any size. Once filled with water, the reeds adhere to the sides so that the tips of the reeds never touch the bottom and the integrity of the reeds are maintained throughout the wetting process. It allows one to monitor the porosity of the reeds by observing the water penetration at the back end of the reeds—the end facing upwards when the tips are pointed to the base of the glass. Therefore, one knows just how long to leave any one reed in the water and avoid any long-term damage to the reed’s life. I have been using this simple device for many years and feel that it is a vital tool for all woodwind performers. The original Reed Well was created in 1994 and discontinued some years later. It is now available again with a lid for protection as well as a sponge insert for those players who prefer to store their reeds in the glass with some added moisture. The Reed Well is machine washable and is easily transportable for gigs. I highly recommend it for all single-reed players.
*I do not benefit in any way from this endorsement nor have any vested interest in the product.
Leonard Bernstein was not only one of the world’s great conductors and composers with a unique voice whose works are frequently performed worldwide. He was also one of the greatest music educators of the 20th century. His programs dedicated to informing the public of the essential aspects of music and how to listen to music—Omnibus, Young People’s Concerts, Harvard Lectures—transformed the perception of music for generations and motivated young kids like me to dream of making a life in music. In this link, Bernstein talks with great reverence and admiration for his “teachers”—Dimitri Mitropoulis, Fritz Reiner, Aaron Copland, and Serge Koussevitzky—and is seen working with young conductors during orchestral rehearsals. Bernstein’s passion for music, his genius talent and extreme intelligence are clearly demonstrated here and will serve as an antidote for the difficult times we now face.
In addition, here’s an additional link to a Bernstein YouTube video titled “The Greatest 5 Minutes in Music Education:” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gt2zubHcER4
This month’s feature puts the spotlight on one of the most respected and well-rounded musicians I have encountered in my career.
Bill Kirchner is a jazz savant and an accomplished woodwind artist, composer, arranger, author, record/radio producer, educator, jazz historian and bandleader who has amassed a list of accomplishments and knowledge that is truly staggering. He is the acclaimed author of The Oxford Companion to Jazz (Best Jazz Book 2001) and A Miles Davis Reader. Among the many album liner notes that Bill has written, he received the 1996 Grammy for “Miles Davis and Gil Evans: The Complete Columbia Studio Recordings” and the 1995 NAIRD Indie Award for the Smithsonian Collection’s “Big Band Renaissance: The Evolution of the Jazz Orchestra.”Continue reading
Robert Bigio is a London-based flute maker who has one of the most complete and informative flute sites on the internet. A historian of flute with several of his books available on this site, Mr. Bigio supplies the viewer with articles by renowned flutists, many of them with recordings by the flutist authors. Other categories explored here include The History & Development of the Flute and Flute Makers. These pages supply a great deal of information on the development of the Boehm flute as well as more recent innovations in the development of simple system (folk) flutes, Baroque flutes and recorders. The real gem for me is the page devoted to early flute recordings along with brief bios of the performers. Among the many notable historic flutists with recordings featured here are Geoffrey Gilbert, Fernand Caratgé, Gaston Crunelle, René Le Roy, Marcel Moyse, Georges Laurent, Leonardo De Lorenzo, Georges Barrère, Philippe Gaubert, etc. Enjoy this wonderful website.
This is one of the most unique and useful websites that the Internet provides for woodwind players. Started by L.A.–based clarinetist David Schoor, the Institute offers woodwind, string and brass players access to a huge reservoir of music and recordings. Much of the music is free and additional music and recordings are available via flash drives and DVDs. A great deal of the clarinet music is available to be downloaded for free from this site including pedagogical studies; solo clarinet works; compositions for clarinet & piano; chamber music; and music for clarinet & orchestra/band. The Archives page on the site makes available a very formidable amount of sheet music and mp3 files of mainstay literature for all of the instruments at nominal prices. In addition, 225 rare early jazz recordings can be purchased via the Institute’s Jazz & Swing Clarinet DVD. For professional players, teachers, and students alike, this site is a no-brainer—you need to become familiar with it. Enjoy.
William Bennett has been one of the world’s greatest flutists for over 60 years. “Wibb,” as he’s referred to throughout the industry, is part of a generation of great English players that includes James Galway and Trevor Wye. His studies with legendary flutists Geoffrey Gilbert, Marcel Moyse. Fernand Cartagé, and Jean-Pierre Rampal led him to develop a style that helped formalize the French school approach to flute playing throughout England and much of Europe. His career has been multi-dimensional: orchestral player, soloist, chamber musician, recording-artist, composer, educator, author, flute maker/innovator, and artist. His accomplishments are so great that it takes a complete website to just list and comprehend them. Fortunately, Williambennettflute.com does just that and more. You’ll find the site all-inclusive and will lead the inquisitive mind to discover all the many Wibb recordings and publications that are available. His biography “Wibb—A Flute for Life;” his approach to flute playing demonstrated in “Mastering the Flute;” and his recordings have given me great enjoyment and influence my daily practice routine. There are also several wonderful interviews that are provided in the Arts section that are must reading. Every serious flutist and woodwind doubler should be familiar with William Bennett’s artistry and this site will make that possible.
Digital Force is a New York-based, full-service digital production company founded by clarinetist Jerome Bunke, who also has a great deal of experience in music production and management. Digital Force handles every aspect of the digital medium including production, engineering, mastering, promotion, marketing, music publishing and printing. They can also reproduce recordings in vinyl format as well. The music catalogue features a diversity of recording styles including Chamber, Latin, Orchestral, Broadway, Rock & Pop, Vocal, Country, Electronic, Contemporary, Jazz, and Gospel music. Their latest release is a double-CD of works performed by the legendary clarinetist, Stanley Drucker, entitled “Heritage Collection From The Vaults (Discs 6-7).” This is the follow-up recording to the initial Heritage Collection set of 5-CDs of live performances by Mr. Drucker released two years ago. The new double-CD set features his most famous recordings that will now be available for the first time on CD. These include the Bartok Contrasts; Debussy Rhapsody; Nielsen Concerto; and Corigliano Concerto. In addition, there are live recordings of works by Spohr, Bliss, and Jacob with soprano Judith Blegen as well as contemporary works by Babbitt, Davidovsky, Weigl and Honneger. I believe this 2-CD set is one of the most important recordings in clarinet history because it documents performances that elevated the technical and artistic levels of clarinet playing over three different decades and made Stanley Drucker a household name among musicians. This CD set, as well as the previous 5-CD set, can be purchased by logging onto:
*Editors Note: I was honored to be asked to interview Stanley regarding this latest recording. The interview served as the basis for the liner notes.
ArkivMusic is an online classical music retailer that distributes their recordings via CDs, DVDs, Vinyl, SACDs and Blu-Ray formats. Their inventory is the most extensive of any I have found for every genre of classical music—over 2300 in their current catalogue. One can search for music by categories such as Composers, Conductors, Performers, Ensembles, Labels and Opera. New Releases and on sale items are always featured.
ArkivJazz is the counterpart music retailer but for all styles of jazz. Music is distributed via the same formats as the classical site but there are also several interviews with artists who have new releases as well as a Podcast series available. One can pre-order upcoming releases here as well.
I’ve had nothing but good experiences with these retailers. Highly recommended!
Hamilton College, a small, progressive liberal arts college in Clinton, NY began a jazz interview series a number of years ago. Hosted by faculty member and director of the Hamilton College Fillius Jazz Archives, Monk Rowe, the collection now numbers over 300 interviews with jazz instrumentalists, vocalists, arrangers, composers and authors. While a number of the video interviews are available on YouTube, there are a good many audio and video interviews that can only be accessed through the college’s website. This is an invaluable source of information and historical documentation that will provide many hours of enjoyment. The list of interviewees is extensive, so scroll down the list when you first enter the site to make your choices. Enjoy!
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: https://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!