Bob Wilber - New Clarinet In Town

Bob Wilber was originally known as the protégé of the pioneering soprano-saxophonist Sidney Bechet. However he soon developed his own voice and has been a major artist for over 65 years. Born in 1928, Wilber may have been a contemporary of the bebop generation, but he was much more interested in New Orleans jazz and swing. He learned a great deal from Bechet and also studied modern jazz with Lennie Tristano and Lee Konitz, avoiding sounding like his teacher. In his career he worked with Eddie Condon, Bobby Hackett, Benny Goodman and the World’s Greatest Jazz Band, co-led Soprano Summit with Kenny Davern, and led many of his own bands including Bechet Legacy. Wilber developed his own voice on clarinet, soprano and alto.

Wilber’s playing on 1960’s New Clarinet In Town is quite surprising. Some numbers feature him with a string quartet, a rhythm section and a French horn arranged by Dean Kincaide while other tunes showcase Wilber in a quintet with the acoustic classical guitar of Charlie Byrd and pianist Dave McKenna. The nine songs heard on this album include obscurities, rarely performed works and a few inventive reworkings of standards. Highlights include “Benny Rides Again,” “Clarinade,” “The Duke,” “All Too Soon” and “Lonely Town.” The music is consistently fresh and innovative, making this one of Bob Wilber’s most inventive albums.


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Swing 39 The Duke Blame It On My Youth Benny Rides Again Django All Too Soon Clarinade Lonely Town Upper Manhattan Medical Group

Additional Info

Additional Info

Format: Jazz Record
Soloist/Artist Bob Wilber
Instruments Music and Musicians
Composer Various
Accompanist/ Conductor Charlie Byrd (guitar), Dave McKenna (piano), George Duvivier (bass) and Bobby Donaldson (drums)


Customer Reviews (3)

"Wilber's Wonderful!"Review by Big Toots
CJ 8 New Clarinet in Town Bob Wilber

For me, one of the most rewarding things about being a critic is examining an artist’s recorded work across that artist’s career. I’ve had the pleasure of hearing Bob Wilber in his fine work with Glenn Zottola and “The Bechet Legacy” and elsewhere. Bob has never ceased to swing and involve to this day. “New Clarinet in Town” depicts Wilber (pre-soprano saxophone) in the early 1960s. And, as a plus, he’s presented in two formats – with a fine quintet, including guest Charlie Byrd and also backed by French horn and small string section, superbly arranged and orchestrated by Dean Kincaide.

Wilber and this team present nine impeccably performed and swinging selections, each of which is associated with a jazz icon. We encounter Django Reinhardt two times – once as a composer of the opening track, “Swing 39,” and once again in his honor, John Lewis’ “Django,” Dave Brubeck, Duke (a three-bagger with one being Brubeck’s eponymous selection), Mel Powell, Leonard Bernstein, and Jack Paar’s favorite guest, the always entertaining and chain-smoking, Oscar Levant.

All things considered and with apologies to “Mr. Ed’s” owner, Wilber is the horse here. He is as elegant, swinging and energized as the bunny scooting with the bass drum. He milks his three clarinet registers for all the sweet-swing he can (“Swing 39,” “The Duke”). And, with Byrd on acoustic guitar, Dave McKenna’s tasty keys and the strings joining in, the textures are satin. Kincaide was wise to render the strings as enhancers and not overseers. That effect allows Wilber and Byrd to fly free without being dripped upon by saccharine lushness (“Blame It on My Youth,” “All Too Soon”).

No longer the freshest stick in town (nearing 90, he resides in England now), but, wherever and whenever Wilber grabs his axes, you can rest assured a bounty of jazz enjoyment will always be found, as is the case here.
(Posted on 6/18/2015)
Bob Wilber: New Clarinet In TownReview by Simon Sez
In 1960 when this album was recorded, Bob Wilber may not have really been the “new clarinet in town” since he had been playing very good jazz for over a dozen years, but he was coming up with a new approach. While Sidney Bechet and Benny Goodman could be heard a bit in some of his earlier clarinet playing, his playing on New Clarinet In Town is quite a bit different and cooler.
On this tour-de-force, Wilber is featured in several different groups. He is joined by a string quartet on some unusual numbers, is backed by a French horn and a rhythm section on some of the other songs, and also gets to play with Charlie Byrd and Dave McKenna. The music is mostly modern swing with such rarely played numbers as “Clarinade,” “Lonely Town” and “Benny Rides Again” being given very interesting treatments. Definitely an intriguing record.

Simon Sez: Bob Wilber’s New Clarinet In Town (CJ08) has Wilber sounding very cool and individual on modern swing songs including with a string quartet.
(Posted on 5/6/2014)
Review by Steve Yanow
New Clarinet In Town consists of nine superior songs, few of which are performed that often and all of which inspired Wilber. Throughout, Bob Wilber shows that he was very successful at carving out his place in the jazz world." - (Posted on 6/12/2013)

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