4/5 Robert Barrett



A Tribute to Jazz Clarinetist Buddy De Franco


Elizabeth Finegan, clarinet


WSC Modern Jazz Combo
Jeff Worrall, trumpet and flugelhorn
Alex Clayton, guitar
James Haag, bass and vibraphone
Ashtyn Rossman, drum set



Buddy DeFranco is considered one of the greatest clarinetists of jazz. His 75 year career includes many successful recordings and awards received during the Swing Era period, the Bebop movement, Mainstream jazz, and even Jazz-Rock Fusion. Buddy is an active performer and clinician today as he nears 88 years of age. He leads a jazz festival that bears his name in Missoula, Montana.

Boniface Ferdinand Leonardo DeFranco was born February 17, 1923 in Camden, New Jersey. A piano tuner’s son, he expressed an early interest in music and started taking clarinet lessons by 9. He attended a magnet school for promising young people in South Philadelphia, PA. While he credits being challenged musically at the school, jazz was frowned upon. Buddy fulfilled his jazz aspirations outside of school and won a nation-wide contest and age 13, sponsored by famous band leader Tommy Dorsey. The teenage DeFranco organized several neighborhood bands, but also caught the attention of jazz greats like Gene Krupa, “Scat” Davis and Tommy Dorsey who hired him in 1944. Buddy was the featured soloist on “Opus #1” which propelled the Dorsey Band up the popular jazz polls.

Buddy DeFranco has gained the respect of jazz critics for his role in the development of Modern Jazz. When Charlie Parker was reinventing jazz in the 1940’s, Buddy was a close friend and ally. DeFranco is credited as being the only clarinetist to successfully transition into this new style called Bebop. His recordings with his small groups during the fifties show an innovation unmatched by previous jazz clarinetists. Over the years, Buddy has recorded with jazz legends such as Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson, Terry Gibbs and more. During a financially lean time during the 1960’s, DeFranco took over the leadership of the Glenn Miller Band. Today, Buddy is in high demand. He travels the world with his wife, picking and choosing the venues he performs at, from a long list.

Dr. Robert Barrett has directed the jazz program at Western State College since 1993. His jazz bands have performed throughout the western United States, receiving recognition and awards for outstanding solos. Alumni of Dr. Barrett’s jazz ensembles include many educators and performers. Dr. Barrett also teaches studio clarinet, saxophone, bassoon, and oboe. Through Dr. Barrett’s leadership, the jazz program at Western has grown to include a large jazz ensemble, a modern jazz combo, a Dixieland band, an improvisation course and a history of jazz course. He also teaches music fundamentals, woodwind methods and directs the WSC Varsity Band. Dr. Barrett holds degrees from the University of Oklahoma (DMA), the University of North Texas (MM), and Brigham Young University (BM).

Dr. Barrett has performed several “tribute” recitals in recent years. These recitals have been designed to not only foster an appreciation for jazz history, but to provide an opportunity for select students to understand the artists themselves and why they were considered legendary performers. Previous “tribute” performances have featured the music of Benny Goodman, Woody Herman, Sidney Bechet, and Artie Shaw.Above each of these important performers in the development of Dr. Barrett’s talents, loom’s Buddy DeFranco. Dr. Barrett’s doctoral dissertation is entitled The Jazz Improvisational Style of Clarinetist Buddy DeFranco (1996).