Your favorite jazz clarinetist must be either Benny Goodman or Artie Shaw, and don't let anybody tell you different. After all, they're big-time band leaders. Benny is the King of Swing, as everyone knows, and Artie Shaw plays high notes and was married to Lana Turner. You have no other choice. Edmond Hall is a rather unassuming colored musician who has been playing around for some time now, with a lot of bands you hear uptown, like Claude Hopkins and Billy Hioks. These days Hall is working with Red Allen's band down at Cafe Society, and you may or may not have noticed him. He never won anybody's Down Beat poll, and I can't recall his being photographed at Ciro's, lingering over a long drink with a Sweater Giri-Funny thing, though, the way he plays clarinet is enough to send Goodman and Shaw back to where they come from.
I think that if Frank Teschmaker were alive today, he'd be playing the way Edmond Hall does, for I've always maintained that Tesch, inspired as he may have been, was lacking in technique so that he failed to get beyond a rather inarticulate--though exciting--style of jazz. Hall, it would seen, has picked up where Tesch left off, combining Teschmaker's rhythmic, eager way of playing with a superior technique, and with what impresses me as being a far greater sensitivity to the melodic potentialities of his instrument. The result is that Hall plays the best hot music you can hear on clarinet these days. Every note is a rhythmic best, hard and staccato, a method of playing which can pick up even the most lifeless of bands and make them really kick. Yet at the same time he never forgets his own musical ideas, and expresses them with a spontaneity which can be awfully refreshing after listening to Artie Shaw choruses, which are executed with a clever facility, but completely lacking in any sort of melodic organization.
Hall has just made four twelve-inch sides for Blue Note Records, playing in a quartet which includes Meade Lux Lewis on celeste, Charlie Christians on electric guitar, and Israel Crosby on string bass. The combination, as you can see, is quite exceptional, and the music is awfully interesting. The four tunes, "Profoundly Blue," "Celestial Express," "Jamming in Four," and "Edmond Hall Blues" are all blues, two slew and two fast, and Hall is the star on everyone, although Lux Lewis' delicate celeste work is an unusual departure from the heavy beat of ordinary boogie-woogie Collectively, the boys weave some rather distinctive melodic patterns around the twelve-bar theme; what's important, however, is the fact that these two records give you an opportunity to hear one of jazz music's, most consummate artists at his terrific best.
NEWS AND NEW RELEASES. Joe Sullivan will be in Providence Sunday. He's one of the great pianists that brought jazz out of Chicago in the twenties. A composer as well, Joe has created such tunes as Little Rock Gateway and Gin Mill Blues. . . . DECCA has issued an album of "white Jazz," consisting chiefly of small band jobs done several years ago, and featuring pretty nearly every white musician worth listening to. Among the offerings are Panama by Jimmy McPartland, Jazz Me Blues by the Bob Crosby Bob Cats, Swingin' on the Famous Door by the Delta Four (how did Roy Eldridge get into this), Decca Stomp by Red Norve, and Tin Roof Blues by the New Orleans Rhythm Kings including Wingy Mannone and George Brunies. There's a small descriptive booklet with the album, written by Dave Dexter, Jr., Associate Editor of Down Beat.