Reginald Foresythe: The Melancholy Clown
The Melancholy Clown
The New Music of Reginald Foresythe
The New Music of Reginald Foresythe (BVHAAST CD 0307)
Johnny Mince (clarinet), Toots Mondello, Hymie Schertzer (alto saxes), Dick Clark (tenor sax), Sol Schoenbach (bassoon).
Composed & arranged by Reginald Foresythe.
Recorded: New York, January 23, 1935
Rating: 85/100 (learn more)
Britain's Reginald Foresythe is little known today, but there were many musicians of stature who either collaborated with him or admired him during the 1930s and '40s on both sides of the Atlantic. His interesting compositions were played by Earl Hines, Paul Whiteman and Louis Armstrong. These syncopated little miniatures remind us that there were other composers besides Raymond Scott who wrote music to be played by jazz musicians that could not really be considered jazz, albeit they might sometimes feature improvisation.
I guess to illustrate the two conflicting emotions of a melancholy clown, a rhythmic figure is established by the clarinets at the start of the piece, but when the melody comes in two bars later, it is played in another key, creating an unsettling mood. That mood is suddenly broken by both clarinetists trading 8-bar solos, first Goodman, then Mince. (Interestingly, they would also trade solos 25 years later on Arthur Godfrey's radio show when Goodman was a guest and Mince was part of the house band.) The ensemble then takes over again, building on the musical material behind the soloists. Foresythe plays what sounds like a written solo while the bassoon plays figures behind him. Clark also solos, and then after some development, the piece recaps as it began, finally winding down with a strange chord and a last utterance from the bassoon.
Reviewer: Jeff Sultanof