Mythical Jazz Duets

Mythical Jazz Duets

Explore the magic of jazz through legendary duets featuring saxophones and/or clarinets that have shaped its rich history. From Bechet and Armstrong's groundbreaking collaborations to Coltrane and Dolphy's experimental masterpieces, learn about the music that continues to captivate audiences worldwide.

Another Syos in the Wall: Sax Gordon's Mural in Italy Reading Mythical Jazz Duets 5 minutes

Jazz, a genre renowned for its intricate improvisation and expressive dynamism, has given birth to numerous legendary duets that showcase the profound synergy between musicians. Among these, duets featuring saxophones or clarinets hold a special place. Here, we delve into some of the most mythical jazz duets that have captivated audiences and left an indelible mark on the world of music.

1. Sidney Bechet and Louis Armstrong

Sidney Bechet, a pioneering force on the soprano saxophone and clarinet, teamed up with the legendary trumpeter Louis Armstrong in the 1920s, creating one of the earliest and most influential jazz duets. Their collaboration, particularly on tracks like "Cake Walking Babies From Home," highlighted Bechet's virtuosic clarinet playing alongside Armstrong's groundbreaking trumpet techniques. The interplay between Bechet's expressive, fast vibrato and Armstrong's powerful, emotive trumpet laid the groundwork for future jazz improvisations.

In order to get a powerful New Orleans style sound like Sydney Bechet you need an open mouthpiece with a round chamber like the Spark mouthpiece. To be even more powerful, you can opt for the Todd Marcus signature mouthpiece for B flat clarinet with its concave step baffle.

2. Benny Goodman and Charlie Christian

While Benny Goodman is primarily known for his work as a clarinetist and bandleader, his collaborations with guitarist Charlie Christian are legendary. Their performances together in the late 1930s and early 1940s, especially in the Benny Goodman Sextet, showcased a seamless blend of clarinet and guitar, creating a new sound in jazz. Notable recordings like "Seven Come Eleven" and "Air Mail Special" feature Goodman's fluid clarinet lines weaving around Christian's innovative electric guitar riffs, pushing the boundaries of jazz music.

The sound of Benny Goodman is well balanced but it still has a lot of projection. For that kind of sound we suggest getting the Syos Steady for B flat clarinet.

3. John Coltrane and Eric Dolphy

John Coltrane, one of the most influential saxophonists in jazz history, collaborated with the multi-instrumentalist Eric Dolphy, who played the saxophone, the clarinet and the flute. Their work together in the early 1960s, especially on the album "Olé Coltrane," is a testament to their experimental approach and deep musical connection. Tracks like "Dahomey Dance" and "Aisha" demonstrate the duo's ability to blend complex harmonies and intricate improvisations, creating a sound that was both avant-garde and deeply rooted in jazz tradition.

John Coltrane's sound is quite complex and difficult to describe. Maxime actually wrote an article about it. In order to get that sound that is not too dark and not too bright but really centered and quite powerful, I would suggest getting the Max Ionata signature on tenor saxophone

On this tune, Eric Dolphy has also a nice centered sound on alto. A mouthpiece like the one we designed for Marshall McDonald, former lead alto player on the Count Basie Orchestra, would be perfect to get this type of sound

4. Gerry Mulligan and Paul Desmond

Baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan and alto saxophonist Paul Desmond created some of the most melodically rich and harmonically sophisticated duets in jazz. Their work together in the 1950s and 1960s, particularly on the album "Two of a Mind," exemplifies their seamless blend and mutual respect. Desmond's velvety and airy tone is in total harmony with Mulligan's dark and warm baritone sound, resulting in a unique and captivating musical conversation. Their rendition of "All The Things You Are" remains a quintessential example of their collaborative genius.

This is the duet of the warmest and darkest sounds! If you want to tend towards Desmond and Mulligan sounds, I suggest to go for the Smoky model on alto and also the Smoky on baritone.

5. Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto

Though primarily known for their work in the bossa nova genre, the collaboration between saxophonist Stan Getz and guitarist/singer Joao Gilberto is noteworthy for its jazz influence and cross-genre appeal. Their groundbreaking album "Getz/Gilberto," which includes the iconic "The Girl from Ipanema," showcases Getz's smooth, lyrical tenor saxophone blending beautifully with Gilberto's delicate guitar work and soft vocal delivery. This duet brought Brazilian music into the jazz mainstream and remains a timeless classic.

If you want to get a sound close to Stan Getz's tone, have a look at Sylvain Rifflet's signature model for tenor saxophone. Sylvain is one of the best saxophone player in France and is also a huge fan of Stan Getz. I wrote an article few months to describe how we designed this special mouthpiece for him.

And you, what's your favorite jazz duet?