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Clarinet still reigns as the king of swing

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Reed player Arlen Asher has quite a selection of instruments in his closet. Asher can bring out a variety of clarinets, saxophones and flutes.

For concerts Saturday, June 4, in Albuquerque and June 23 in Santa Fe, he will haul out his B-flat clarinet, the first musical instrument he learned. He’ll be playing many tunes associated with swing bands led by Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw and Woody Herman, all clarinetists.

“The whole idea of this concert is to play music that they made famous,” Asher said.

Masters of Jazz Clarinet
WHEN and WHERE: 7 p.m. Saturday, June 4, at Nahalat Shalom, 3606 Rio Grande NW, and at 7 p.m. June 23 at El Meson, 213 Washington St., Santa Fe
HOW MUCH: Tickets for the Albuquerque concert are $20 at the door. Tickets for the Santa Fe concert are $15 at the door with advance reservations suggested. Call 505-983-6756

Most of the tunes on the program are those associated with Goodman and Shaw. Among them will be “Moonglow,” “Sing Sing Sing” and “Good-bye,” all associated with Goodman. “Begin the Beguine,” “Summit Ridge Drive” and “Frenesí,” all made famous by Shaw, are on the bill. Plus there’s the Herman band’s theme song, “Woodchopper’s Ball,” which Asher said is the only Herman number on the program.

“I grew up with that music and kind of remember them more than anybody else because nobody is as old as I am,” joked the 82-year-old Asher.

Joining him in the performances will be pianist Bert Dalton, bassist Michael Glynn and drummer Cal Haines. Asher and Haines picked the tunes for the program.

“We did the (clarinet concert) last year in Santa Fe. It was such a success and the music is so much fun to play,” Haines said.

Goodman, Shaw and Herman represented the first time that a clarinet was an orchestra’s front instrument, he said.

Haines said he invited Asher to play with the quartet for the concerts because “he’s one of the masters in clarinet here, for sure.”

The concerts are the first two of six summer concerts in the Geniuses of Jazz Series, which Haines and Victoria Rogers co-produced.

Cutline – Clarinetist Arlen Asher will play in concerts featuring the music of Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw and Woody Herman.