A living instrument: the clarinet in jazz in the 1950s and 1960s
The clarinet was a part of the most modern and avant-garde jazz in the 1950s and 1960s. It was played by Buddy DeFranco, Eric Dolphy, Jimmy Giuffre, Pee Wee Russell, Tony Scott, Bill Smith, members of the AACM and Sun Ra's band, and many other contemporary players. Swing and traditional jazz players, like Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Woody Herman, Jimmy Hamilton, Russell Procope, Marshal Royal, George Lewis, and Albert Nicholas continued to use it prominently. There is a perception of the decline in the use of clarinet in the 1950s and 1960s, which can be attributed to the fragmentation of the different styles of jazz, changing musical tastes, technological factors, diversification of saxophonists who became woodwind players, and political motivations. The clarinet was symbolic of the history of jazz and was a symbol of pride for some and of oppression to others. Each clarinetist had his own unique set of skills that helped shape the future of jazz in the areas of composition, sound manipulation, use of exotic sounds, expansion of instrumental technique, and expansion of the boundaries of jazz.
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