07 Sep Edmond Hall-A Profoundly Blue New Orleans Clarinetist
My attraction to New Orleans clarinet started in earnest when I took my first trip to New Orleans for the 1985 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Fair, or what they call down there Jazz Fest, which is short for Jazz Festival, obviously. On this trip I heard both Alvin Batiste and Pete Fountain live, along with many other clarinetists and seriously great musicians, and I became hooked on the music that permeated that culture.
I also heard some music in Preservation Hall, and that experience changed my life. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preservation_Hall
Being that close to the music, seeing and experiencing all that history made a huge impression on me, and I think it was at that moment that I understood better what this music was all about and where it came from.
I began researching the music, and somehow heard a Meade Lux Lewis track called Profoundly Blue. I became aware of the haunting clarinet solo on this recording, and heard the name of clarinetist Edmond Hall for the first time……
Edmond Hall was a one of the finest clarinetists to come out of New Orleans, Louisiana. His long career took him to many places, yet Ed Hall never strayed too far from the small group jazz that he grew up with in New Orleans. Apparently you can take the Creole out of New Orleans, but you can’t take New Orleans out of the Creole! There is a wealth of information at Hall’s Wikipedia page here……..
Hall’s career included a stint in Louis Armstrong’s All Stars, and he created a jazz masterpiece in 1941 with Meade Lux Lewis when he recorded this iconic solo on Profoundly Blue. A chamber jazz work that featured Lewis on the little used celeste, this immortal track has influenced generations of clarinetists with it’s graceful and elegant atmosphere.
You can find it on Youtube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5srxbe1GvGcProfoundly Blue Concert:pdf
I truly FEEL the blues when I hear this solo. To me it’s the iconic upper register wail and the slightly dissonant blue notes that Hall let’s loose that kill me every time. Try playing this solo with the recording and try to imitate all the little inflections, including the vibrato. Try to get the FEELING of the solo, not just the notes. It’s easy enough to learn this one and to play it by ear, give it a try. It will change your playing forever!!
I’ve been back to the New Orleans, the Crescent City, a few times since that initial trip, and I’ve learned a lot more about the music, the people and the culture. To me Ed Hall’s solo on Profoundly Blue captures the essence of this music. His simple yet soulful wail on the clarinet, akin to the blues holler of the field workers, and his crunching of the occasional blue note weave a deep spell over the listener. This solo has been a richly rewarding source of incredible inspiration to me through the years. I hope you get something extraordinary from it also. Ed Hall’s music is MUST listening if you develop, as I have, a passion for New Orleans clarinet music.