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High Society

Alphonse Picou &
The Paul Barbarin Band


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Alphonse Floristan Picou
(October 19th 1878 - February 4th 1961)


In this clip from around 1959, filmed in the last years of Alphonse Picou's life he plays his famous clarinet solo for "High Society" with the Paul Barbarin Band. -It isn't a soprano sax he's playing, it is an Albert system clarinet, which has an unusual curved metal bell. He may have chosen to use this over a standard clarinet for its audibility.

Born in downtown New Orleans in 1878, Alphonse Floristan Picou was a Creole musician who played an
important role in the early development of the jazz clarinet style.

Picou performed a variety of music with numerous groups in and sometimes even played in the band
of the most important developmental force of the genre Buddy Bolden.

Many younger jazz clarinetists have cited Alphonse Picou as an essential early influence including
Johnny Dodds and Jimmie Noone.

He is best known for originating the clarinet solo for the standard "High Society" a piece that began
as a marching band tune written by Porter Steele and published in 1901.

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