An Interview with Bill Smith

Thurs. 2/24 at Noon: Today we're going to feature the music of and talk to Bill Smith, one of the greatest jazz clarinetists to ever wet a reed. As well, one of the least acknowledged for his mastery.

In my choosy pantheon of clarinet greats he easily sits along side Artie Shaw, Johnny Dodds, Pee Wee Russell, Kenny Davern, Bill Payne, John Carter, Gary Foster, Lester Young, Hal McKusick, Jimmy Noone, Frankie Teschmacher, Buddy Collette and Beth Custer. These artists can spell chalumeau backwards, forwards and inside out. I spell it: Liquid.

Clarinet is a difficult instrument: You must devote a million hours to it's study to even get close to the control of its slippery promise. Goose tones and gas pipes are out, and a dime a dozen. The sound that Bill Smith achieves is only bestowed upon the few.

It was in the Dave Brubeck Quartet of 1959 that Bill Smith first came up on the radar screen blowing on the album THE RIDDLE. He and Dave go back to the 40s and the experimental octet they had a Mills College where they both studied with Darius Milhaud, the modernist who approved whole-heartedly of jazz and all things impressionistic. Later assignments for Mr Smith include work with Red Norvo and Shelly Manne, among others on the West Coast. Then 35 years as professor of music at University of Washinton at Seattle. Recent performances include the premiere of his jazz opera "Space in the Heart" last November in NYC.

I could go on but suffice it to say that this is going to be special.

More info: http://faculty.washington.edu/bills/