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Noone Procope and Benny Waters

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  • ROBERT R. CALDER
    1a. Re: Noone and Procope and Benny Waters Posted by: lastofthebarons lastofthebarons@mac.com   lastofthebarons Mon Sep 12, 2011 8:15 am (PDT) Strictly
    Message 1 of 3 , Sep 13, 2011
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      1a.
      Re: Noone and Procope and Benny Waters
      Posted by: "lastofthebarons" lastofthebarons@...   lastofthebarons
      Mon Sep 12, 2011 8:15 am (PDT)


      Strictly speaking, Dave Green wasn't citing Benny Waters -- we were listening to him and being bowled over. We weren't even talking -- he just turned to me and voiced "wow!"
      I heard Benny on many occasions, but on this date with Fapy Lafertin he made the most beautiful sound I ever heard him make on clarinet.   The late Jake Hanna was standing at the bar and almost fell over when he heard Benny open on tenor.
      Depending on the venue, and presumably other factors, Benny didn't always sound the same. It's amazing when a man in his eighties plays better because the room is small and he can't let loose!  Sometimes he was more Hawkins, sometimes Chu Berry. 
      There was a time he played soprano, but he settled down to open on tenor, and do a second solo on alto, sometimes moving on to clarinet. 
      As I understand the matter, he was never a clarinetist in his earlier years, unless maybe in section work, and took up tenor seriously under Hawkins influence, and after his R&B career with Roy MIlton he took up clarinet to work with Jimmy Archey, and sounded wonderful on the airshot recording, but not like he did in later years.
      He confined himself to alto from the age of I suppose 87 when he lost his sight following an operation for cataract.
      I'll mention some recordings to Dave when I can check.

      I know about Procope and Tio only from Ken Mathieson.  I wouldn't have regarded him as an ersatz, or even as somebody who changed his way of playing clarinet. Quite likely like Benny Waters he might have taken some preliminary lessons on clarinet -- or not -- but started taking clarinet seriously out of an enthusiasm for what he had heard on record, and I do remember hearing a short solo from the 1930s on which he produces the same sound which made hair stand on end on areas of my scalp from which it departed long ago.
      So far as I knew, Omer Simeon also never had another way of playing clarinet. He grew up within a New Orleans diaspora population in Chicago.

      There is a quartet session by Joe Temperley with Brian Lemon on which Joe's baritone sounds very like Simeon's.

      Retromen can sound as if they do not have one style and sound, Dave B is right, but there is the interesting thing of Benny W and some other seniors I remember that they weren't always exactly the same. I remember that when Benny sounded more like Chu Berry he was being constrained to stay with tenor -- in an ad hoc band with Earle Warren on alto -- but Chu was a former altoist too.  I suppose it's a case of always having to sound the same if you have no identity but are trying to sound like something.  If it comes direct there's no assuming a voice.

      Kenny Davern switched clarinets over the years, and became most distinctive during the years he took to the stratosphere and did a lot of high-register stuff (after a number during which he spent a long time up there, he would refer to a white powder on every surface in the room, and say "it's my teeth."

      I'm not sure whether Jack Brymer improvised, but on radio once he talked about having discussed things with Buster Bailey.  He also talked about his lifelong enthusiasm for Benny Goodman when he toured with a band of sometime Goodman sessionmates --  and even if he might have had the solos written for him, that was a unique, beautiful and jazz sound too.


      Robert
    • David Brown
      Hi Robert Benny Waters was something of an anachronism, seemingly playing in a style unaltered from his formative years. I can believe that his clarinet
      Message 2 of 3 , Sep 14, 2011
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        Hi Robert

        Benny Waters was something of an anachronism, seemingly playing in a style
        unaltered from his formative years. I can believe that his clarinet playing
        was mellower because he was a very part-time clarinettist and that obviously
        produces a far more technically restrained result. Like Pres, Buddy Tate,
        Earle Warren, Benny Carter, Zoot Sims and Jimmy Giuffre. Or even Cap'n John
        Handy.

        OK. I'll accept Procope's credentials as N.O. clarinettist but he never was
        a great improviser on alto. Somewhere Charles Fox complains of him
        continually re-producing his one solo with Ellington.

        Love Joe Temperley -- truly original sound -- but I'll have to search for
        Simeon on baritone. Examples ?

        Davern was a very intelligent player and man but it's debatable whether he
        ever totally synthesised his very various influences.

        Jack Brymer was simply the finest clarinettist I ever heard. That seamless
        fluidity, beautiful unhistrionic but warm clear tone, everything required
        for classical repertoire. I also heard him on radio and remember him playing
        Goodman. I never knew he attempted jazz. Records ?


        Dave


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      • David Brown
        He was an important session musician. He played Bass Clarinet on the sound-tracks of the Hammer horror movies featuring actors Peter Cushing and Christopher
        Message 3 of 3 , Sep 14, 2011
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          'He was an important session musician. He played Bass Clarinet on the
          sound-tracks of the Hammer horror movies featuring actors Peter Cushing and
          Christopher Lee.

          He took over leadership of the London Saxophone Quartet after the death of
          its founder Michael Krein, playing Soprano Saxophone (which he considered
          the most 'Classical' of the Saxophone family).

          During his military service in the RAF, he was a Fitness Instructor and
          Unarmed Combat Instructor. His extreme fitness may have contributed
          significantly to his exceptional tone-quality.

          He was virtually alone in being the complete master of both the 'Classical'
          and the Jazz styles. He could play Benny Goodman's style almost
          indistinguishably from Benny Goodman himself. He was a personal friend of
          Benny Goodman. In earlier years, he played Saxophone and Clarinet in Dance
          Bands.

          A significant feature of his style of playing was his use of vibrato, and he
          is considered to be one of the first clarinet players to use this
          systematically.'




          Just dug that out of Wikipedia on Jack Brymer. Several things there to add
          to his jazz credentials.


          Dave


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