The clarinet is relatively new among the woodwind instruments and a crucial component of several genres of music, including big band jazz, swing, and Dixieland. Clarinet originally meant ”small trumpet,” and the clarinet family is composed of many similar instruments. Many of them have different construction, such as the piccolo, bass clarinet, and alto clarinet.

The clarinet became an extremely profound instrument in the era of Swing in the 1930’s as well as Big Band Jazz in the 1940’s. Not only was this a time where jazz was becoming popular in Pittsburgh, but many other parts of the country, especially New York and Chicago.

Sidney Bechet plays the clarinet

Sidney Bechet plays the clarinet.

Benny Goodman and his Big Band

Benny Goodman and his Big Band.

Benny Goodman born in Chicago, IL was known as the “King of Swing” and led one of the most popular music groups in the United States. Goodman moved to New York early in his career where he also took up playing the saxophone for some time. However, the decline of swing was emerging in the United States, so Goodman further explored bebop and other forms of jazz while continuing to succeed on the clarinet.