SASHA!

Every musician who ever experienced the outrageous gravitational power of Alexander Schneider has his or her own orbit-changing, life-affirming tales about their encounters with this wild keeper of the flame of music. If you can, try to talk to someone who knew him, find a musician who played with him, for him. Anyone whose life in music was forever changed and electrified by Sasha will have their own shocking and exhilarating story about him.

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Woody Herman's Thundering Herd

I first met Woody Herman at a jazz club on W. 52nd St. in NYC. It was dark in this basement lair though it was still late afternoon on the street. I’d been invited to “sit in” by the writer/critic/ drummer, George Simon. The band struck up “Bye, Bye Blackbird” and after I played George said, “There’s somebody I want you to meet.” We walked over to a table in the back and a dapper gentleman, well-dressed with a silk ascot, shook my hand and said, “I’m Woody Herman.” Oh, my god I thought, I just played a mediocre chorus on my clarinet for the leader of the Thundering Herd—one of the greatest big bands in the world!

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Vibrato

One of my earliest memories of playing the clarinet was using it to join the altos alongside my mother in our church choir. It was my father's idea (he sang tenor) to help the inner voices stay on pitch. And so I tried to blend in with the singers. Emulating the singing voice became a natural goal in creating my sound, my tone. Life is vibration.

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Spokane Public Radio Interview

Below is the link to a recent interview with Spokane Public Radio.  I enjoyed this interview of course because Verne is such a long time fan and he asked about composers with whom I've been fortunate to have personal experience. He even showed me his own copy of the original first Tashi record, Messiaen's "Quatour pour Le fin du temps" , which brought a rush of memories.

http://spokanepublicradio.org/post/studio-clarinet-soloist-richard-stoltzman

Tashi: Messiaen Quartet for the End of Time

High Notes

Recently, a high school clarinetist sent me a letter, in which he asked me a few questions.  One of the questions was about how to play high notes.  This is a difficult question to answer in a letter, especially when you aren't able to see and hear the person playing them, but here is my answer.  And while it is fairly general, I thought I would include it here:

 "...when you are working with very high notes your embouchure will need to alter slightly.  The lower lip must roll out slightly to allow the reed to vibrate intensely.  This will have the effect of flattening your chin muscles firmly against your teeth.  Your jaw must project out towards the ligature: form the vowel “Ee” inside your mouth with the tongue higher towards the roof of your mouth.  Hold the clarinet closer to your body so the wedge shape of the mouthpiece applies more pressure to the reed while allowing more vibrating surface.  Push up with your right thumb to involve the mouthpiece and reed deeply into the sound.  This will help tone quality.  Practice chromatically in the altissimo and learn the alternate fingerings which will aid facility and help intonation.|"