Know Orchestra 

Know Orchestra has just released a new EP called Knock Knock and features the amazing compositions of multi-instrumentalist Dan Shaud. 

Visit us at:

Intrinsic Desire: Tuesday Night Mid May 

Poetry and a spontaneously creative act that you know has something to say.

It speaks and it breaths and needs to be released.

The ears ring, the mind is tired but the will, the desire to play that clarinet lives and drives, the fire within, that life, harness that wind and sail.

A flowing line, a well timed bell, seething desire for whom to tell....

Why wipe the slate clean and forget what was said? Capture the moment and stake your claim, on the green meadows we long to tread, in this time, we long indeed.

We are catapulted into light and lest we forget the desire that eats at our fat, the sinews long to claim a place at your side. 



Super Energy Shot for Band Clinic 

I call it the Super Energy Shot for Band Clinic and I can come to your school and give a master class and work shop at a very reasonable discount. Because of my relationship with Conn-Selmer, you get an a woodwind workshop and clarinet specialty master class at a very reasonable price. My master classes include ensemble blending, tone, attack, articulation, legato exercises, scale and arpeggio worksheets, musical interpretation, improvisation and collaboration. I have given master classes and workshops at Newton South High School, Wheaton College in Norton, MA, The Academy of Music Dance and Art in Plovdiv, Bulgaria and at the Boston Conservatory.  
See my artist bio at:
You have much on your plate as an educator and sometimes inviting a guest artist to come in and work with your kids is a real blessing. Lets collaborate! Let me know what repertoire you're working on and what your concerns are with your woodwinds. Get me as much relevant information as you can and I will customize a workshop and clarinet and saxophone section masterclass for your needs. My workshops are designed for blending your serious students with the ones who might not take it very seriously and getting them to work together as a functional team. Do you have students that will be auditioning for District or All State auditions? I specialize in helping students to unleash their potential and have fun!  

Selmer Advantage 

The Selmer difference.. 

Put a brand new Buffet Prestige low C bass clarinet next to a new Selmer Privilege low c in the same room and prepare a comparison. Use the same air support, open up and give it all you got. What are some of the differences? There is most definitely a focused, dark resonance in the Buffet and more of a fat sounding ring to the Selmer. However in my opinion the Selmer difference is you can fly over the keys and not feel any inhibition. What is the difference you feel? I know that so many folks are opinionated one way or another, but for the work I do as a performing artist (with so many different expectations) Selmer gives me the push I need when playing in various jazz ensembles, (blending with saxophones and amplified instruments) and that certain je ne sais quoi that my friends in the orchestra can't quite put their finger on. So what is it? I think an instrument should allow you to express your inner most musical feelings without inhibition and of course we are also looking for precision and accuracy. Oh yes and intonation! Because of its chamber and design, I can get a wide palette of timbral nuance, volume and pitch. 

I've always felt this way about Selmer clarinets and its why I'm so excited to endorse their beautiful bass clarinets. 

Can you feel the Selmer difference? I was inspired to write this while hanging out with my friend Joe at Virtuosity Music in Boston who also plays with me in the Claflin Hill Orchestra. They gave us a room and we put many instruments side by side, but the main attraction was to see the differences between the Selmer and Buffet instruments that we had side by side. I also added my Selmer Paris 35 low E flat to the mix. What we discovered is really informative and why I decided to write this blog. I am not familiar with design specifications, but the sound and the feel was much different.  

Reflection on the clarinet today 

A question was posed recently on a clarinet group I belong to on Linked in: "Where is the clarinet going musically" and I decided to share my response right here on my blog.

Since the cartoon character Squidward is the only popular icon of the 21st century to play the clarinet and most commercial bands have been denigrated to a small box with a screen and keyboard, it's difficult not to feel lost as a clarinetist today. I have always strongly believed in the power and beauty of the clarinet and the way you can scream with it over the top. Getting in with as many new and creative musicians as we can is really important. We are all looking for ways be heard, whether you're a guitarist, trombone, sax player. It seems that the "popular" idioms that are represented in media really exclude a lot of instruments or all instruments, except a computer and a voice. 

What ends up happening is clarinetists have a tendency now to get somewhat introverted and get into discourses over the minutia of a CM Weber solo. As modern classical musicians seem to have a tough time 'championing' modern music, I think we should all just 'be'. When you hear guitarists play, they each have their own style, tone, character. We should all proactively get out there and expose ourselves, other musicians, canary vocalists, computer people and potential fans to our sound and style. If you are a clarinetist, you really should improvise like crazy and if you don't improvise, compose. Get your ideas out there, we live in a post millennial modern era where anything is possible musically.

I'm really curious to get your responses here on my blog. You see there are only really two jobs in an orchestra, there is also a utility player on call, or an associate principal position. So....full time orchestral jobs are scarce and most clarinetists as a result I think are scared of their prospects. I know I was when I graduated from the Boston Conservatory. The other thing is that I have always loved other kinds of music besides orchestral and have chosen to embrace and champion the clarinet in diverse and even popular music setting in order to remain musically active. I know I would have made a lousy accountant! We all grow musically and in order to remain relevant as a clarinetist, the idea is to reintroduce your sound and style and you'll probably get lots of nods of approval and people going, "oh that sounds awesome" of course you may need amplification, but what clarinetist doesn't want to turn it up a little?
Improvise, improve and groove clarinetists!


Improving and improvising musician. 

 I'll never forget working with Butch Morris back in the 90's and as we prepared for our run with New York Skyscraper at Context in the Bowery, he told me that I should consider playing my own warm up exercises and not copying someone elses. It was kind of a break through perspective for me. At the time I was taking some lessons with David Weber, playing freelancing gigs and working with this incredible creative visionary who changed my life forever. Butch introduced me to a sound pallette that I never thought possible. By the end of our run, I was seeing colors as we played...I mean maybe it was sleep deprivation, but the only time in my life when I really did experience synesthesia.
It's a few years later now and Butch Morris has now sadly passed. I've been checking out some of his video footage and his voice. He had a gentle voice, pleading and insistent, he could priase and cut in the same sentence. Knowing his history and what he had acheived and how he worked with us, I could not help but like and respect him at the same time. He wasnt easy to work for, you had to really accept that he was the boss and he carved and wrestled with our sounds every second of the training and in the performances we did. Conduction was an exceptionally creative musical experince and Butch Morris was Champion of improvised music. He saw the gap between improvised and composed music, knew the incredible power of collective composition and also belived in structure and technique. There is no doubt that my own musical curiosity was fueled by this great man, in the short times I worked with him, he profoundly influenced me. He told me it was alright to be myself.
Here is a Youtube video of Conduction #188:
The Composition of Conduction:

Its a clarinet world 

Why clarinet conspiracy .com? Because it's a clarinet world, but no body understands that. Of course I'm saying that tongue in cheek, but let's face it, since the great Benny goodman, the clarinet is a somewhat under utilized instrument in main stream culture. Not that main stream popular musical culture is anything really to get excited about any way. I mean if I were that Brit guy from American idol, I would not be too proud of the fact that I'm known as one of the people who has influenced modern popular music. In fact I'd love to be on  the show just to say to the guy, "you should be ashamed of your ridiculously successful multi-millionaire so and so". Can anyone here say Melisma? I mean really it is so incredibly overused in popular song, its become so trite, but every singer you hear today almost has to pass through the musical authenticity audition by syruping it up with melisma with however much of it you can add at any time. So what we have now are these vapid over produced songs with very little depth, plastic coated, covered in a sheen of melismatic tooth fairy dust.
           Then there is the clarinet world...why are people in the clarinet community still trying to champion music that has no audience, that might have been popular over 100 years ago? I'll just leave that question open. I dont mean to be all high and mighty on my blog here, its just that clarinetists should not be afraid to be real musicians. Real musicians who really get out there in the real world and play things for people now in any and every situation they can. When I was walking with my son earlier today, we found a little park area where he could throw stones. I started playing my clarinet, I wasn't playing for anyone, but people did like it and told me so. That may be the only playing I do today, but it was really satisfying.
           It is so important to remain true to yourself, to what you originally thought you might bring to the musical table, whether it is a great interpretation of a Mozart concerto or a Theolonius Monk tune. Or better yet, your own song, yet to be written, something you just had to try and play because that is where your inspiration lies. It's almost as if today we have to apologize for who we are.. we need that recognition or that position. We need others to tell us we're great. The singers have to pass the melismatic test, the clarinetists need to play Cappriccio Espagnol. The whole time we're all just looking to be ourselves and are lost in a sea of facade. Well I'm just actually speaking for myself here...this is coming from a guy with the most musically schizophrenic career of all time!! Just look at my calendar of events. Its a musical blender!
        Here's an affirmation. This guy came up to me after one of our more creative concerts at a local art gallery here in Cambridge. He told me that he was a mechanic and he had no idea what we just did, but he sat there listening in rapture, totally into it. He asked me what we call it, its not rock, not jazz, he had never heard anything like it before. He wanted to know where he could hear more. This guy was so cool for doing that, it just made me think about the diversity that is out there in our musical community...locally and globally and what an exciting time it is indeed for us musicians in a post modern world and a post modern clarinet world! 

Constant motion 

Sometimes you just cant practice enough because life encourages you to stay vigilant, meet new folks and seek out new opportunity. We live in a community where we really do depend on one another, for friendship, information, services, you name it. So I moved around a lot today, had a great rehearsal with Paul,  wished my sister a happy birthday (wish I could in person), revised some advertising, met new folks, networked, helped a friend, taught a lesson. The family time at the end was the best.
       The incredible Dave Maxwell show at the Vortex has happened and it is on to the next event. I just keep thinking about the next album...let's see a Vortex album? A Circadian Rhythm Kings album? I know John M was real happy about the other night's performance and thanks to our good friend recording engineer David Lee, we have a first class audio recording of last Friday's Vortex what?
       It was real nice that my friend Daniel Bennett plugged the Vortex in his John Garelick interview in the Phoenix the other day. You can refer to the full article
here. It' time to start planning the Vortex Other Dimension Festival for July 22, Esther and I will be sitting down on Tuesday to start mapping that out. We are planning on having master classes on improvisation during the day and hopefully take advantage of some of the acitivities at the YMCA that day as well. That night, short performances, 20 minutes on, 10 minutes set up time for the next group and there you have it.

News and thoughts 

In January, the Cambridge Arts Council and the Massachusetts Cultural Council supported the Vortex Series for New and Improvised Music with a matching grant.

In March we had a fundraiser at the new Somerville Armory building which featured some great improvisational performances and the semi notated, semi improvised work "Tips" by Steve Lacy. Even though it was a cold a blistery night in Somerville, we had a wonderful time and had a great turnout.

That same weekend, I played a concert with virtuoso pianist Amira Acre that was recorded live for Framingham access television and my spoken word band, Neon Juju played at the Alchemist in Jamaica Plain.

In April, I’ll be joining flutist Matt Samolis, cellist Rob Bethel and soprano Sarah Bielanski at the Longy School’s Pickman Hall as part of Peter Cassino’s 70th birthday celebration. Happy Birthday Peter!

The Vortex Series will feature a show called Guitars and Horns with trumpet player Tom Duprey and guitarist Tom Hawthorn, guitarist Garrison Fewell and oboist Esther Viola. Neon Juju will be doing special performance at the Democracy Center at Harvard University.

In May the Vortex Series will feature the legendary Birdsongs of the Mesozoic and a duo by Katt Hernandez violin with Steve Norton on bass clarinet. Ken field will also be featuring a movie about the 60/60 festival, so that should be a wonderful evening of mixed music and media.

In mid-May, I’ll be traveling to London, Milan and Switzerland with Musaner, a band that features the compositions of Ara Sarkissian with innovative arrangements of folk music from Armenia and the Balkans.


 Crosswinds: Six duets for flute and clarinet by Richard Applin

Todd and Orlando feel very strongly about championing this profound work for many reasons. First it's great, second, they coached with Professor Applin on this piece until they got it right according to his wishes, both at the composers home and in the recording studio. Both interchanging lines make leaps and bounds in their respective ranges, taking turns exchanging solo lines and accompaniment. The two part writing constantly weaves and explores harmonic extensions with tension and release, crafted by years of musical explorations. There are downright Ellintonian references as well that bring out playfulness and noire like intrigue. Professor Applin's tireless exploration of music and various musical mediums truly comes to life in Crosswinds. Unfortunately professor Applin passed away after a long fight with cancer before hearing the final edits of Todd and Orlando's studio recording. The musician community in Boston has lost a true master artist and champion of creative musical exploration.


I Allegro

II Energico

III Molto Tranquillo

IV Giocoso

V Laid back, but not too slow

VI Allegro   

Premiere Rhapsody for solo Clarinet by Claude Debussy

Originally written as a contest piece for the Paris Conservatory in 1910, the Premiere Rhapsody for solo Clarinet has been a beloved main stay in the clarinetists' repertoire for over a century. In his subtle use of color, timbre and nuance, Debussy gives the clarinetist tremendous challenges technically, musically, physically and emotionally. It is on one hand such a subtle and delicate piece and at the other, a powerful tour de force. To get away from the “contest” and get into the pure musicality at hand, American clarinetist Atilio Poto once described the Rhapsody as a “Flowing dream with rich subtle variants that guide the dream-scape as the story unfolds”. 
It is clear that Debussy's influence on jazz is very strong with his mixture of diatonicism, chromaticism and modal harmony, in particular his use of pentatonic scales. For instance, the first real flowing line for the clarinetist, is in two parts. At first its clear that Debussy is using a minor pentatonic scale and then in part two of the phrase, as the line ascends, he adapts a flat 9. As the phrase builds there is a powerful C going to a D#, a sharp 9, but in his usual defiant musical sensibility, breaks from the minor mode by returning to the parallel major at the end. Of course he also beautifully uses augmented intervals just to stretch the build up and tension with a musical question. Using a strong major-minor feel would clearly bring up 'the blues' as a way of embracing much of Debussy's sentiment for the Rhapsody. Even at the end of the piece, his use of the #9 (D# E G triplet) and subsequent wailing run, could be the original influence for the ultimate orchestral jazzy riff- the very beginning of George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue.

2015 was an incredibly exciting year. At the end of it, the Eric Hofbauer Quintet was listed again on two separate blogs as both the top ten best classical music recordings of 2015: and the best jazz recording of 2015:
On January 9, we went into Rotary Records in W Springfield to work with our friend Warren Amerman. the results I'm sure will be amazing. Opal Ensemble was just awarded grants from the Arlington and Lexington Cultural Councils to do two separate programs and Paul, Anne and I are thrilled! The Arlington concert will take place at noon at Arlington Town Hall on February 19 and feature a world premiere by our friend David Owens. The Lexington Concert will happen on April 16. More details about our concerts and sites and sounds of Opal Ensemble, please visit us online at:
Had such a blast playing with Joe Redi and Richard Poole at the Framingham library as we presented A Cool Night for Hot jazz, read the article and see a slide show by clicking HERE:

*Photograph courtesy of Kevin Cummings of Cummings Photography and the Framingham Patch.

Wednesday May 29 at 9:00 at the Lily Pad in Cambridge, I'll be performing a jazz version of the Rite of Spring, transcribed and re-imagined for quintet by guitarist Eric Hofbauer. Yes...a jazz quintet version of the Rite on it's 100th anniversary! The performance will feature Eric Hofbauer on guitar, Junko Fujiwara on cello, Jerry Sabatini on trumpet, Curt Newton on drumset, and Todd Brunel on clarinet and bass clarinet.  Our rehearsals have been filled with excitement and astonishment as we re-invent possibly one of the most exciting and controversial works of the 20th century. 

The Meltdown Incentive, a group that fuses theatrics and music will present a show called 'Stuck in a Lenny Bruce Time Warp', exploring the stigma around "colorful" language, on Thursday May 30, 8 pm at the American Repertory Theater's Oberon, 2 Arrow Street, Cambridge. World renowned percussionist Ra-kalam Bob Moses joins the ensemble as special guest for the performance. The Meltdown Incentive is: Delvyn Case on piano, Rob Bethel on cello, Ed Broms percussion and bass, Todd Brunel clarinets and the amazing Sara Bielanski, vocalist.

Please visit my calender page for more information about these events and more.
I hope you can make one or both of these concerts and I look forward to seeing you there!!!

FEB '13: I was saddened to learn about the recent passing of jazz musician and composer Butch Morris. Back in the 90's I had the good fortune of working with him in New York and doing a series of concerts with our ensemble at Context. It was a time of profound growth for me, I'll never forget Butch telling me that I needed to come up with my own warm up routine and stop copying someone elses.

I learned so much from him, Rest In Peace Butch, the world will miss you!

This photo features bass clarinetist Joe Albano, Junko Fujiwara cello, violinist Jonathan LaMaster and Butch Morris up front.
Back in 2005 I helped put a group together for Butch that we called, "The New England Skyscraper conducted by Butch Morris". It was a big and beautiful ensemble that featured many local Boston area musicians and some from NYC. We are in the planning phase now, but we will most certainly do a tribute concert for Butch very soon....

Musaner: Once Upon A Time, "One of the most picturesque, intensely vivid albums of the year" New York Music Daily.
"Trust me this album is going to knock you out." Marc Myers
"The polished folk-fusion ensemble plucks stories and spins them into musical gold" John Holland, Voices To Hear.

 Our new critically acclaimed sophomore release, "Once Upon A Time" features some of our most richly evocative music yet. Scroll to the media player below to hear "Two Way Ticket Across the Black Sea". Click HERE to get to CD Baby where you can download the album and listen to to more samples.
The John Tchicai Tribute concert at the Lily Pad was a beautiful and moving event. See new Youtube videos on my home page
featuring Eric Hofbauer guitar, Jacob Williams double bass, Kurt newton drums Jerry Sabatini trumpet,
Charlie Colehase alto sax and Todd Brunel on bass clarinet.

New Music: 
Gordon Jacob Trio movement 1 and 'Improvisation' by Mel Powell featuring pianist Paul Carlson, myself and violist Anne Black live at the First Parish Church Summer Concert Music Series in Lexington, MA. Click the media player below to hear these works and many others.

Photo featuring Garrison Fewell, Todd Brunel, Jim Hobbs, Forbes Graham and John McClellan from our recent show at the Lilli Pad in Cambridge.

The Rock Flint Contemporary Ensemble
 had a great time at the Thing In the Spring Festival in Peterborough, New Hampshire. Click to the Youtube link to see and hear:

X Fest Orchestra at the Brecht Forum directed by Saxophonist Ras Moshe in NYC was an amazing happening which featured Junko Fujiwara, Kit Demos, Walter Wright, Bonnie Kane, Shayna Dulberger, Chris Welcome, Daniel Carter and other new friends!

Pianist Paul Carlson, violinist Morgan Scagliotti and I just after our concert at the Newton Free Library. An all clarinet program that featured works by Daniel Gregory Mason, Schubert, Charles Turner, Leonard Bernstein, Roy Harris and Khachaturian, Eubie Blake and of course a contemporary improvisation!  

Matthew Ray's Connecting the Notes show on WZBC was a blast. I've just added the recording of Garrison Fewell and I it's some incredible spontaneous music making...enjoy!

Check out a new FREE download: Abime Des Oisseau with Electronics on my recordings page. Sample it in the media player below.

 New Music: Vortex Live now available at CD Baby and itunes. Click on the image below.

The Vortex Live features:
Todd Brunel clarinets, Rob Bethel cello, Esther Viola oboe, Andrew Hickman tenor sax (tracks 1 and 4),
Dave Maxwell piano, Kevin Frenette guitar, Junko Fujiwara cello (track 7),Yael Bat-Shimon violin (track 8),
Jonathan LaMaster violin (track 6),Tom Hall tenor sax (track 2), Geni Skendo flute and shakuhachi (track 8),
Daryl Shawn guitar (track 6), Matt Davignon drum machine (track 7), Blake Newman double bass,
John McClellan drums.

The Vortex Series for New and Improvised Music has been awarded a 2011 grant from the Somerville Arts council and the Massachusetts Cultural Council.


The Eric Hoffbauer and Garrison fewell's cd release party at Johnny D's in Somerville,
supporting "Sound particale 47" was a great time.
Read Jon Garelick's review right here:


A new cd by Sonic Sanbox is now available, featuring Forrest Larson on electronics, David Brown on didgeridoo and percussion and Todd Brunel on bass clarinet and clarinet. Turbulence Part Four can be heard in its entirety, right here on the media player. We will be performing in support of our new album, 'Turbulence' at the next Vortex Show on November 5, 8:00 at Outpost 186, a show that will also feature guitarist Ben Miller as he makes a stop on his east coast tour.

New music:
I'd like to Introduce a new studio recording that I recently did with singer songwriter
Andy Pratt, called 'fools' from the album " All That Glitters" which you can listen
to right here on the media player below.
Many thanks to Warren Amerman at Rotary Records.
VOD Festival gets into the Boston Phoenix 'Bos Picks'. Read the article here

Improvisation workshops and Clarinet and Saxophone lessons!
Registration starting Now.
New Location: The Somerville Armory
Flexible times and rates apply.

saner's first European tour was a tremendous success. We performed in Milano and in Zurich to incredibly enthusiastic audiences. They gave us standing ovations, clapped and danced to our music and showed us so much appreciation. We knew we'd touched many hearts. A big thanks to Ara Sarkissian, my good friend and the artistic director of Musaner.

  With me In this photo are percussionist Fabio Pirazollo and bassist Blake Newman. Grazie Milano! Danke Zurich!

The Vortex Series For New and Improvised Music
2010 grant recipient from the Cambridge Arts Council
and the Massachusetts Cultural Council!

Clickhere to get to the Vortex blog.

Abime des Oisseaux with electronics.
See the Youtube video below that captures some of the recording process.

Great new music website from Kalvos and Damian In the House!
Click the link and scroll down to August 19, 2009, show #555: CLICK HERE

Click on the
Recordings page for links to such sites as Innova Recordings,
CD Baby and Itunes or order cds directly through the mail, by filling out the order form.