Thursday, October 28, 2010

Eddie Miller the clarinetist

Eddie Miller played wonderful tenor sax for decades, most notably with Bob Crosby's Bobcats. He excelled as the fourth horn player in an improvising front-line with trumpet, trombone and clarinet. It's a difficult job, and not one that gets the audience's attention - you've got to weave a musical line that stay out of the way of the mobile clarinet, doesn't interfere with the trombone in outlining the chord changes, and especially doesn't challenge the trumpet lead. In short, you're doing a good job if no one notices you, yet the band has a wonderfully thick harmonic texture.

Eddie Miller and Bud Freeman are the only ones I've heard do it perfectly in addition to providing inspired solos. Both played clarinet on occasion, but Eddie Miller played it superbly. The recording below shows his woody New Orleans sound, one shared by Willie Humphrey and Raymond Burke.

He's hardly an unknown, but Eddie Miller doesn't receive the attention an artist of his consistency and good taste deserves.

1 comment:

Destiny said...

It's indeed a tragedy that Eddie does not receive the credit he deserves. Too often, clarinetists are forgotten and used as a backdrop or an additive to the reeds. Except, of course, for the bandleaders like Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw.

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