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  • Ralph Carney (2009)

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    Multi-instrumentalist Ralph Carney seems to have a love-hate relationship with his home town Akron, Ohio. Akron is where both B.F. Goodrich and Firestone were founded, and sometimes he attributes the direction of his career, and perhaps even his own character, to "the rubber dust in the air … fumes … tire stuff".

    The first of Ralph's many instruments was the five-string banjo, on which he played Bluegrass, country blues, and also The Beatles. Violin followed, then harmonica, and then, with his discovery of jazz, the saxophone. He listened to "Blue Note, Rahsaan, Coltrane, …"

    After a year of college in Kent, Ohio, Ralph relocated to New York, studying at Karl Berger's Creative Music Studio where he not only learned a lot about music but also absorbed practical advice such as "learn to do your own laundry".

    In the intervening quarter century, Ralph has taught himself to play instrument after instrument, including all the saxophones, flute, piccolo clarinet, slide clarinet, contrabass clarinet …. Perhaps running out of reeds and woodwinds to study, he also plays brass, notably trumpet. (This versatility may actually have saved him money in sideman wages: for example, on his recording "This Is! Ralph Carney", he's the only performer, overdubbing clarinet, panpipes, Jews harp, musical saw, keyboards, guitar, percussion, etc., and also singing.) He's also diversified his personal menagerie of instruments, selling his sopranino sax (but now he wants a replacement), retaining his curly soprano, and acquiring a baritone that might have belonged to his Ellingtonian namesake, Harry (no relation).

    Among the many with whom Ralph has shared the stage, or recorded, or both are the B-52s, Elvis Costello, and Marc Ribot, and notably Tom Waits, and thus the Oranj Symphonette.

    Ralph is a larger-life-character whom Wikipedia terms a "manic multi-instrumentalist". Further comment would be superfluous: just listen.

    Pick Artist Album Song Label
    # 1 Don Redman Jazz Humour (LP) It's a Great World after All (Stash)
    # 2 Gene Ammons The Gene Ammons Story: The 78 Era Rock-Roll (Prestige)
    # 3 Anthony Braxton Creative Orchestra Music 1978 (LP) Cut 3 (Side 1) (Arista)
    # 4 Duke Ellington and His Orchestra Smithsonian Collection of Classic Jazz (LP) Ko Ko (Smithsonian)
    # 5 Weather Report Weather Report Orange Lady (Columbia)
    # 6 John Coltrane Live at Birdland I Want to Talk about You (Impulse)
    # 7 Red Nichols and His Five Pennies Jazz Humour (LP) Goofus (Stash)
    # 8 Gene Ammons The Gene Ammons Story: The 78 Era Sock (Prestige)
    # 9 Coleman Hawkins Smithsonian Collection of Classic Jazz (LP) The Man I Love (Smithsonian)
    Book Ray Bradbury, "Something Wicked This Way Comes"
    Luxury Item A garlic press, or a white-noise generator
    Castaways by date
    George Cotsirilos
    09 Feb
    Steve Dalachinsky
    13 Apr
    Ed Klitsch
    05 Jan
    Andy Stein
    30 Mar