British clarinetist David Shepherd dies at 87

DAVID SHEPHERD

DAVID SHEPHERD, 87, on Dec. 15 in Hampshire, England. Often billed as Great Britain’s answer to Benny Goodman because of his instrumental facility, centered tone and driving attack, which was considered comparable to that of his American idol. He adopted the clarinet at age 15 after seeing Freddy Mirfield’s Garbage Men whose clarinetist was a young John Dankworth.

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He joined Joe Daniels and his Hot Shots in 1951, the year he turned professional and made his recording debut. He toured frequently with Teddy Wilson and regularly put together quintet presentations (often using other Goodman alumni) based on the maestro’s music. It was reported that Goodman once said: “He plays more like me than I do.”

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Lew Shaw started writing about music as the publicist for the famous Berkshire Music Barn in the 1960s. He joined the West Coast Rag almost thirty years ago and has been a guiding light to this paper through the two name changes since then as we became The Syncopated Times.  47 of his profiles are collected in Jazz Beat: Notes on Classic Jazz. Volume two, containing profiles from 2013-2016 will be available on Amazon soon. He taps his extensive network of connections and friends throughout the traditional jazz world to bring us his Jazz Jottings column every month.

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