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Clarinet player Pete Fountain will be missed

August 24, 2016 7:04 A.M.
Pete Fountain and Al Hirt. (Screen grab)

ON SATURDAY, August 6 we lost we lost a great musician, Pete Fountain, a wonderful clarinet player.  He was 86.

He played mostly Dixieland jazz and swing and of course pop music too, to make a buck.  He had a very distinctive style, the sound and the ideas flowed effortlessly from his horn, no matter whether he was playing with a small combo or a big band.

He started in 1950 with a group they called the Basin Street Six, with a fine young trumpet player named George Girard, who died too young.  I have their first recording and it still sounds great.  He played for a while with The Dukes of Dixieland, then he did a stint with Lawrence Welk.  This one didn't last too long, his free flowing style didn't fit what Mr. Welk wanted.  After that he played with so many of the greats, including many guest shots on the Johnny Carson show, with Doc Severinson and the tonight show band.

He had his own club in New Orleans — The Rube Band went to hear him when we were there for Mardi Gras in 1974.  He had a large group that night and just blew the house down.  He also paid the Rubes a great compliment; said he was watching the parade we were in and we were the only band playing Dixieland Jazz in the whole parade.  Imagine, he said, a band from Kamloop (no s) had to come 5,000 miles to play Dixie for us!

He played many times with the great Al Hirt, together what a force they were, two of the very best at what they did.  Check them out here as they play Basin Street Blues, having fun in two tempos.

Now that you're in youtube music, check out the many other great tracks; with the Boston Pops, in Nashville and so many more.  He recorded over 100 albums, so there is lots to choose from.

You will be missed Pete, Rest in Peace.

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