From the Record Shelves #245


CD Gitanes 013 543-2

Maybe you are familiar with this French clarinet player called Maurice Meunier. I wasn’t until I found this record about ten years ago. It doesn’t come as a surprise that there are good ones in France because the French influence is felt through the Creole players from New Orleans.

But when it came to the difficult task of taking the clarinet into the bebop era, it was mostly two players of Italian ancestry who were the driving force: Buddy DeFranco and Tony Scott. (In New Orleans jazz there was also Leon Roppolo and Tony Parenti with that background!)

Maybe the clarinet was a bit overexposed during the swing era due to the popularity of Artie Shaw and Benny Goodman, or maybe it’s just a too difficult instrument to master, that made it more or less abandoned in the late forties.

In the hands of DeFranco or his few followers, like in this case Maurice Meunier, it’s an instrument that goes well with the intensity and drive of early bebop playing.

Hubert Rostaing who shares the CD with Meunier got his fame when he auditioned and got the job of replacing Stephane Grappelli to play with Django Reinhartdt’s Hot Quintette during World War II. As luck would have it, Maurice Meunier in his turn got the offer to replace Rostaing in the Quintette in 1947.