Fat Tuesday and Pete Fountain

Tuesday February 24 is Fat Tuesday in New Orleans. Pete Fountain will kick off the festivities leading more than 200 members of his Half-Fast Walking Club (say the hyphenated word slowly!) through the city streets. He's been doing it every year (except 2006) since 1961!

Fountain, 78, is still playing clarinet with youthful energy. Here he is playing "A Closer Walk with Thee" with "Amazing Grace" thrown in the middle.

Pete uses his air in the most natural way, big and relaxed, like a musical sigh. He plays with his whole body. Like most jazzers, he vibratos with his embouchure, which helps control his air stream. It's no wonder people never tire of hearing him. It sounds so easy. And that's why he can still do it at his age.

Here Pete playing with Jimmy Valentine, a clarinetist whose quartet plays in the Quad Cities area on the Mississippi River along the border of Iowa and Illinois. Valentine is a decade younger than Pete. This video is from 1994, and as Jim describes it on his YouTube channel, "I can't tell you how much fun and a thrill it is to sit in with your idol!" That must have been intimidating! Jimmy does fine after a slow start.

In other clarinet news, the late Anthony Gigliotti's young widow has been arrested for severely abusing their 16 year old son. Full story here.

2009 is also the 100th anniversary of Benny Goodman's birth (May30, 1909).

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