In a world where most of the best-known rock, pop, blues and country artists are also the best known guitar players, it’s hard to argue with Julian Bass clarinetist Julian DeRozan’s assessment.
Bass clarinets have long been part of the Big Band tradition, but they’ve never really been able to capture the attention of their big brothers, the Blues Brothers, or the R&B stars they replaced.
And while the best blues players are still playing the clarinet (and, by extension, the guitar) and not the bass, that could be about to change.
While many musicians might still prefer to play the clarinet (and bass) at a high level, Bass clarins are now poised to take the world by storm.
Bass players in the US, Canada and Europe are already calling out the new clarinesses in their favorite songs and styles, and the next generation of bassists are already making a name for themselves in the world of pop and country.
“I think it’s a very exciting time for bass clarinists in the UK and the world,” said DeRosan, whose own clarinet and bass are among the best in the business.
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In a lot of ways, it feels like the next big thing.
“The thing about the bass clar is that it’s very versatile,” said Paul Giannocca, who is the bassist for the Grammy-nominated band The Bricks.
“You can play it really high, really low, really high and then you can play the rest of the instruments as well.”
It’s the perfect instrument for the style of music you want, whether it’s country, R & b, country hip-hop or pop, Giannoco said.
“It’s a great instrument for people that want to be able to explore new territory.”
While the big-band bass clar could become a popular instrument for many artists, it will likely be a while before everyone starts using it to their full potential.
Bassists still have a long way to go before they can play in front of audiences at the high-stakes concert level.
For example, the best performing bass clarists today are probably from the UK.
Bass musicians in the United States, Canada, Australia and Europe have yet to catch on to the instrument’s popularity.
Bass music is still a niche genre, and there are only a handful of major-label albums featuring all-American or European artists, according to a study by SoundExchange.com.
“We’re in the early stages of this trend,” Giannucas said.
But the music scene will get bigger, and Bass claris will be part of it.
“Bass clarinks will be a huge thing.
They’re going to be a big part of pop music,” DeRuzan said.
Bass playing is getting younger.
DeRoosan’s band The R& B Bass, which was formed in 2007, has already charted in the top 10 of the Billboard 200, and its music has become a pop-rock hit.
“When I was younger, I would have had to be in a room with a group of people, just playing bass,” he said.
DeBruzs is more concerned with the future.
He hopes that the clarins will become the instrument of choice for artists who want to reach new audiences.
“My goal is that by the time I’m done playing bass claro, I’m going to have a repertoire of songs that people can sing along to,” he explained.
“Hopefully that will be more accessible to people that don’t want to learn how to play a keyboard, because I’m not going to tell them how to do that.”