My attraction to New Orleans clarinet started in earnest when I took my first trip to New Orleans for the 1985 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Fair, or what they call down there Jazz Fest, which is short for Jazz Festival, obviously. On this trip I heard both Alvin Batiste and Pete Fountain live, along with many other clarinetists and seriously great musicians, and I became hooked on the music that permeated that culture. I also heard some music in Preservation Hall, and that experience changed my life. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preservation_Hall
Being that close to the music and experiencing all that history made a huge impression on me, and I think it was at that moment that I understood better what this music was all about and where it came from. I began researching the music, and somehow heard a Meade Lux Lewis track called Profoundly Blue. I became aware of the haunting clarinet solo on this recording, and heard the name of clarinetist Edmond Hall for the first time……
Edmond Hall was a one of the finest clarinetists to come out of New Orleans, Louisiana. His long career took him to many places, yet Ed Hall never strayed too far from the small group jazz that he grew up with in New Orleans. Apparently you can take the Creole out of New Orleans, but you can’t take New Orleans out of the Creole! There is a wealth of information at Hall’s Wikipedia page:
Ed Hall’s career included a stint in Louis Armstrong’s All Stars, and he created a jazz masterpiece in 1941 with Meade Lux Lewis when he recorded this iconic clarinet solo on Profoundly Blue. A chamber jazz work that featured Lewis on the little used celeste, this immortal track has influenced generations of clarinetists with its elegant atmosphere.
You can hear Profoundly Blue on Youtube here:
There is so much jazz feeling in this solo. To me it’s Hall’s iconic upper register wail that kills me every time. Play this solo with the recording and try to imitate all the little inflections, including the vibrato. Try to get the FEELING of the solo, not just the notes. It’s easy enough to learn this one and to play it by ear, give it a try. It will change your playing forever!
I’ve been back to the Crescent City a few times since that initial trip, and I’ve learned a lot more about the music, the people and the culture. To me Ed Hall’s solo on Profoundly Blue captures the essence of this music, the simple yet soulful wail of the clarinet, a crunching of the occasional blue note weaving a deep spell over the listener. To me this solo has been richly rewarding and a source of incredible inspiration. I hope you get something extraordinary from it as well. Ed Hall’s music is must listening if you develop, as I have, a passion for New Orleans clarinet music.
Thanks for stopping by my Blog...Markos