Jack McLaughlin is an Australian jazz clarinetist steeped in the history of a bygone era. A jazz purist by nature, McLaughlin follows a less traveled path and, though influenced by George Lewis, plays the music much as it would have been played by Louisiana parlor groups of seventy years ago.
The focus of this release is split between the music and the vintage instrument being played. On a visit to Germany, Jack met clarinetist, Eberhard Kraut, and became fascinated by his collection of historical instruments. Of special interest was Kraut's rare metal Albert system clarinet. The metal clarinets came into use in the middle of the 19th century and were designed for use by the military in all weather conditions. With the help of the German collector, a metal instrument was found on the British market and McLaughlin became the new owner. The Australian musician is not the first to be infatuated by the vintage metal Alberts. George Lewis owned one for a number of years but returned to the ebony axe in the late 1940s. Today it is the clarinet of choice for Britain's Brian Carrick and the Danish jazz star, Kjeld Brandt.
Jack McLaughlin and the Oz band appeared recently in New Orleans at the 2003 French Quarter Festival
, performing at the Continental Airlines International Stage on Bourbon Street. Jack and his group also played a couple of days at Fritzel's where traditional Crescent City jazz is king.
The McLaughlin attack differs from many other players on the current scene. Jack plays every bit of the tune. He even plays the verse to the 1928 hit, Ice Cream
. I've heard that old warhorse a hundred times and was unaware that a verse existed. He drags other gems out of retirement too. An ancient Hoosier Hot Shots tune shows up in the form of I Like Bananas (because they have no bones)
and gets the McLaughlin treatment. This CD is a collection of traditional New Orleans fare including spirituals, marches, pop songs and novelty pieces. One tune in particular will stick in your head for a week. Originally a radio jingle for WWVA in Wheeling, West Virginia the melody resurfaced about 1975 as an irreverent but amusing Plastic Jesus
. Embraced by the drug culture, the tune gathered a cult following.
Jack McLaughlin's third CD shows his dedication and love of the music. Sound samples are available at the Jazz Crusade
website. If you would like to know more about the rare metal clarinets, I encourage you to read Eberhard Kraut's fine article
. McLaughlin and his instrument were written-up recently in the publication Mississippi Rag