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Legends of the Clarinet
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JVC Jazz Festival

By Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower

Legends of the Clarinet
Tony Scott and Buddy DeFranco
with the Bill Mays Trio
Bill Mays on Piano, Marty Vind on Bass,
Matt Wilson on Drums
Iridium Jazz Club
1650 Broadway, Corner of 51st St, NYC

Publicity by Festival Productions
Charles Bourgeois, Director

Media Contact: Jim Eigo, Jazz Promo Services

June 22, 2003

Jazz Promo Notes: Edited from Notes by Jim Eigo

The clarinet has always been an important instrument in jazz, from its earliest days in New Orleans, with players like Johnny Dodds and George Lewis, to the Swing Era with Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw, to the Bebop era with our featured stars, Tony Scott and Buddy DeFranco, to the current scene by a newer star, Ronny Odrich.

Tony Scott and Buddy DeFranco are the undisputed masters of the clarinet. Both came to prominence during the Bebop era in the 1940's and 1950's and are among the few clarinetists to transfer the language of Charlie Parker onto this instrument. Both have won numerous polls and awards, recorded with all the greats, and are recognized as both masters and innovators on their instruments. In 1959 Tony Scott left America, like many American jazz musicians, disillusioned with the jazz scene at that time. Tony's wide interest in music from other cultures led him to the Far East, where he found spiritual and musical refreshment. Since the 1970s, Tony has lived in Rome, Italy and has had a successful career recording and performing throughout Europe. His return to New York and his reunion with Buddy DeFranco at the Iridium, only one block from the legendary 52nd Street, is a very special homecoming for both Tony and the jazz community.

Buddy DeFranco is generally credited with leading the way for jazz clarinetists from the exciting era of Swing to the exhilarating age of Bebop. Along the way he has set the example for all jazz musicians for technical brilliance, improvisational virtuosity, and creative warmth. He is one of the most imaginative clarinetists playing today. His biography, A Life in the Golden Age of Jazz, has just been published by Parkside Publications. (Edited from Jazz Promo Notes).


This evening was my introduction to this highly virtuosic clarinet duo, who are so esteemed and professional that they invited an additional clarinetist, a student of Buddy DeFranco, Ronny Odrich, to join the stage. There were long interludes on bass and piano, as well as showcased percussion, but Tony Scott and Mr. DeFranco clearly led this set with brilliant and widely ranging tonalities, at the lowest and highest ranges that the clarinet can create. In Time After Time, Matt Wilson, on drums, took the lead with resounding success. In What Is This Thing Called Love? Mr. DeFranco and Mr. Scott played collaboratively on the dimly lit stage, a private conversation, between clarinets, made public. Mr. DeFranco played danceable swing rhythms, that turned progressive and edgy, as Mr. Scott joined in, with no missed beats, and a hint of Love Is A Many Splendored Thing, in the midst of the fused quartet. Soon to be heard were Latin rhythms, which fused into swing and progressive jazz. Meanwhile, Buddy DeFranco and Tony Scott were two songbirds in the forest.

When Tony Scott played Lover Man, a Billy Holiday tune, he skipped octaves, mid-melody, and played along with Marty Vind on bass to create a fascinating duet, soft and sensual. Ronny Odrich was both melodic and dissonant in My Foolish Heart, and his clean, clear trills brought pride to his teacher, Mr. DeFranco, attentive at the sidelines. During Autumn Leaves, Mr. Odrich extended his pulsating notes to the upper reaches, before nodding to Bill Mays to take the lead, followed by Mr. Vind on bass, with a mellow bow effect and a magnificent theme. Mr. Wilson fused exciting percussion into this intellectual escapade of swing and jazz.

When the three clarinetists joined forces (See Photo), there was a decided order of appearance, as Mr. Scott was followed by Mr. DeFranco, who was followed by Mr. Odrich. When Mr. Scott's clarinet was silent, he sang scat to enhance his colleagues' rhythms and later even took reign at the keyboard, to the surprise of the crowd. Watch for news of a new CD, featuring Buddy DeFranco and John Pizzarelli. This was a rare evening of jazz with wonderful sound and profound professionalism.

Kudos to JVC Festival Productions for this wonderful event.

Tony Scott at Leisure
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower

Special Guests
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower

Mrs. De Franco
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower

Special Guest
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower

Ronny Odrich at Leisure
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower

(l-r) Clarinetists Buddy DeFranco, Ron Odrich, Tony Scott at Iridium, NYC
Photo courtesy of Michael Fitzgerald

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at