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THE INSTRUMENTS, THE SOUNDS, THE PERFORMERS
with his band playing a climactic blues arrangement behind him; but most of his work has been consistently adroit and melodic. Of the other clarinetists generated by the swing era, Woody Herman was perhaps the most stylized. Given to occasional artificial forays into the upper register with notes that outstayed their welcome, he has often been most effective playing in the chalumeau register; like Shaw, he has made some first-class blues recordings.
Little known as a clarinetist, though his role could have been a major one had he cared to concentrate on the instrument, was the tenor saxophonist Lester Young, who played clarinet in a liquid, nervous style on a record session for Commodore with the Kansas City Six in 1938. To this day there are jazzmen who name Young among their favorite clarinetists.
Jimmy Hamilton, Duke Ellington s clarinetist since 1942, has always impressed jazzmen with his articulate, well-schooled sound, as correct and dignified as his own personality on the bandstand. Hamilton might be called a low-blood-pressure Goodman.
A revolution was brought about in jazz clarinet by Buddy De Franco, who during his tenure in the Charlie Barnet and Tommy Dorsey bands in the mid-1940s made it clear that he had accomplished for the instrument what Gillespie and Parker had achieved for the trumpet and alto saxophone. De Franco was the first to show the astonishing flights of fancy to be accomplished by a wedding of the ultimate in clarinet technique with the new harmonic approach with which bop had revitalized jazz. The perfection of his execution was comparable with that of few other jazz musicians irrespective of instrument; possibly no soloist since Tatum had combined technique and taste to such stunning effect.
De Franco for a long time had little competition; it was a full decade before Tony Scott, another product of the Parker-Gillespie jazz generation, broke what had appeared to be a monopoly. Scott, who in early years had a tendency to try to play more than his fingers allowed and to reach for high notes with a somewhat shrill tone, had ironed out these problems by the middle 1950s to become a first-class modern jazz