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High Society - Picou

11 years ago2.7K views


bob erwig

High Society Picoe 1959

This is a clip from around 1959 in the last years of his life in which Alphonse Picoe plays the famous clarinet solo in High Society.
This is with the Paul Barbarin Band in New Orleans.
Alphonse Floristan Picou (October 19, 1878 - February 4, 1961) was an important very early jazz clarinetist who also wrote and arranged music.
Picou was one of the early musicians playing in the new style that was developing in the city, not yet known as "jazz". He sometimes played in the band of perhaps the most important force in the musical change, Buddy Bolden.
Many younger clarinetists cited Picou as an important influence, including Johnny Dodds and Jimmy Noone. Picou's style (those who knew him for many years said that his style when he recorded was little changed from how he played early in the 20th century) His style struck many who heard Picou late in his career as either "not quite jazz" or "just barely jazz".
Picou is perhaps best known for originating the clarinet part on the standard "High Society". Some have mistakenly stated that he wrote the number, which was actually a 1901 marching band composition by Porter Steele. Picou rearranged it giving it a gentle swing and paraphrased the Piccolo part to create his famous clarinet solo. This became a local standard part, and no younger New Orleans clarinetist was considered proficient until he could duplicate Picou's part. Unusually in a music that values improvisation it became a set piece; commonly later clarinetists would solo once through reproducing or sticking close to Picou's solo, and then do their own improvisations on a second solo.
Picou's funeral procession in 1961 was one of the largest the city had seen, with several brass bands and many additional musicians playing to give Alphonse Picou a send off. Many commentators said it marked the end of an era as the death of the last prominent still working musician from the very birth of jazz music.

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