On the clarinetist's latest album, the blues might be modernized or tweaked, but it's never far away. Fresh Air's jazz critic says The Edenfred Files is modest in a good way, like a musical chapbook or novella. The scale suits Harper's pointedly focused music.
In a career that ran from the 1930s into the 1980s, and included work in big bands and rock 'n' roll, the clarinetist, saxophonist and bandleader changed to reflect the times. Herman would have turned 100 on May 16.
On her latest album, Claroscuro, the jazz clarinetist explores influences that range from Louis Armstrong to Brazilian music to that of her native Israel. It's the desire to adapt the instrument to so many musical traditions that has earned Cohen such acclaim.
A regular performer at the Village Vanguard, Anat Cohen paid tribute to her early clarinet hero Benny Goodman in 2009, in honor of his 100th birthday. On Clarinetwork, her quartet plays tunes associated with Goodman, or at least songs he recorded while backing Billie Holiday.
In April of this year, just a month before the death of New Orleans jazz clarinetist Alvin Batiste, the Marsalis Music label celebrated him with one of its "Honors" discs. The recording — Batiste's first in more than a decade — paired the pioneering modern jazzman with younger musicians, including two of his students. Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead has a review.
Clarinetist Ken Peplowski. The 40-year old jazz musician, has been playing the instrument since the age of 7, and went on to play in Benny Goodman's last band, and in the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra (led by Buddy Morrow). Peplowski influences include Goodman, saxophonist Sonny Stitt, the Beatles, and Ornette Coleman He launched a successful solo career in the early 1980s and now has 16 albums to his credit. His latest is "Ken Peplowski: Last Swing of the Century-Big Band Music of Benny Goodman" (Concord Jazz).