Do You Know A Jazz Bassoonist? So, where does the Bassoon fit into the world of jazz?
Yes, we do some jazz on both the Wanted and Captured CDs. Please check out our recordings. Brother Mark has played jazz in clubs in Portland and was also doing rock bassoon. We do rock bassoon on our CDs too. The type of pickup I use can be purchased from Forrests Music. I use a wah-wah pedal (cry baby) and a Fender guitar amp. We do Jimi Hendrix’s Purple Haze on the Captured CD and wah-wah bassoon on the Escaped CD in Miserlou. Having a pickup and an amp give you a sense of power that you can’t imagine until you’ve tried it!
But Who Was the First Recorded Jazz Bassoonist?
Here is a partial list of possible candidates.
Frankie Trumbauer with Joe Venuti’s Blue Four Band 1929?
Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra?
The early Whiteman orchestra reportedly had a bassoonist. “Also added by the time of the first record session were Gus Mueller, Hale Byers, and Sammy Heiss. Ross Gorman, able to play all reed instruments, replaced Mueller soon after the August sessions.” But we are uncertain that there were jazz bassoon solos. More research is needed. Click here to view source!
The bassoonist was….??
The Ingenues–Band Beautiful?
It could have been the woman who plays cello and bassoon in The Ingenues–Band Beautiful in 1928. If you watch this video you’ll see and hear an early jazz bassoon solo. Watch it on YouTube!
I was told by American bassoon patriarch Sol Schoenbach, former Principal Bassoon of the Philadelphia Orchestra and teacher of many of the country’s finest bassoonists at the Curtis Institute, that he played jazz with Benny Goodman’s band. He called himself “the mystery bassoonist,” who walked on stage, played a jazzy solo and walked off.
Sol did also record with Benny Goodman. In a recorded radio interview he indicated that he recorded Dodging a Divorcee with Benny Goodman who was largely unknown at the time. Both were struggling freelancers and Schoenbach was in his late teens at the time. The recording was the work of British composer Reginal Foresythe done in January 1935 and included the legendary Gene Krupa on drums.
The Goodman Society knew nothing of this when I contacted them. We’ll let them know what they don’t know.
Errol Buddle with the Australian Jazz Quartet
Buddle claims that he recorded the first improvised jazz bassoon solos. Buddle’s discography was closing in on 100 titles involving as many as ten different instruments. A master of reeds who came out of the Australian jazz scene in the ’40s, Buddle paid dues in Detroit with bandleader and drumming monster Elvin Jones, and if a double-reed pun can be allowed, has been quite bocal about having recorded the first jazz improvisation on bassoon. He also plays alto, tenor and baritone saxophone, clarinet, oboe, and flute, and might even have a sideline as a drummer if the discographical indication of “d” means what it is supposed to.
The town of Adelaide was his early stomping grounds, the scene of formal study at several colleges and conservatories as well as radio work beginning in 1946. During the second half of the ’40s he worked in Jack Brokensha’s combo, among others; in the ’50s he relocated to Sydney and had a weekly gig for his own band featuring many leading players on the Australian jazz scene. In 1952 he went to Canada on a work permit, playing first bassoon with the Windsor Symphony Orchestra. On the side he played tenor in local bands and did more than just gaze at the city of Detroit across the water. He began collaborating there with bandleader Johnny “Scat” Davis, including an appearance on television in 1954. Buddle worked with his own group in Detroit and also gigged with Jones through the end of 1954. He continued to live away from Australia until 1958 but remained heavily involved with his native country’s jazz scene, joining a band known as the Australian Jazz Quartet as the thunder of Jones’ tom-toms was still ringing in his ears.
Source: Eugene Chadbourne, All Music Guide
The oldest jazz bassoon recording that I have is Stuart McKay’s Reap the Wild Winds released in 1955. His Fagotte Gavotte was my teacher’s favorite warm-up tune. Music for his bassoon tunes have been published.
Frank Tiberi is a jazz bassoonist who has recorded with Woody Herman band.
Ray Pizzi is the Godfather of jazz modern bassoon. Ray is the one who made a point of writing and performing on jazz bassoon on his recordings and frequently performs in the jazz style in movie scores. Ray is beyond funky. Check out his website.
You can hear him in the second Star Wars movie (The Empire Strikes Back) playing in the Cantina band wailing away on some high jazz bassoon. He is also in the soundtrack for the movie Predator 2, but you’d never recognize it as a bassoon. He is on TV commercials and many soundtracks. He has several recordings, originally on LPs with some CDs now available on his website. Ray’s main instrument is tenor sax and he is truly amazing on that and flute as well.
Henry Mancini wrote a concerto for Jazz Bassoon and Orchestra dedicated to Ray. (Listen on Youtube…) To my knowledge there is no commercial recording of this work as yet. On Ray’s recording, he plays Ballade for Bassoon by Henry Mancini (from the concerto), from the ‘Ray Pizzi Espressivo’ CD, available at: http://www.raypizzi.com/
The most prolific improviser on bassoon is Paul Hanson who has several current CDs and plays on many others including some rock bands and pop artists. Paul is truly amazing. You should check out his website. He has published a book for practicing jazz bassoon.
Michael Rabinowitz is another fine jazz bassoonist with three CDs out living in New York and used to play bebop jazz bassoon on the streets for change. Check out his website.
Karl Porter plays on jazz flutist Hubert Laws’ album, Laws’ Cause performing with Chick Corea on his composition, Trio for Flute, Bassoon and Piano. (The link takes you to Chick Corea’s recording of the same piece.) The sheet music for this piece was published and is available for purchase: Click here.
Janet Grice has two jazz CDs out.
I think the jazz saxophonist Ornette Coleman dabbled in jazz bassoon. Possibly also Yusef Lateef. Jazz saxer Illinois Jacquet has recorded an LP with a long Bassoonist Blues.
One very obscure jazzer is Dick Braun who played in the San Diego Symphony. CD called The Bassoon Bugs.
Gunthur Schuller wrote a concerto for bassoon that includes jazz improvising. It was recorded by Ken Pasmanick. Listen on Youtube.
New Age and World Music Bassoonists
Mark Eubanks appears on David Michael’s CD, Music World, available (with sound clips) on CD Baby. Mark appears on Track 5, Forest Evening on both bassoon and saxophone.
Bill has been playing jazz and promoting the bassoon for many years with a number of recordings. Bill is a prolific composer of bassoon music. He is well known for the Boulder Bassoon Band, his new age recordings, and his collaborations with clarinetist Richard Stoltzman and with several recordings to their credit, such as Open Sky.
The Bassoon Brothers have also recorded Michael Daugherty’s Hells Angels for bassoon quartet and orchestra which has jazzy improvised sounding passages in it, but not improvised. This is on the Oregon Symphony’s American Contrast CD on the DELOS label.
This article was submitted in response to an email from Melanie Chua.