Wilton Crawley

Crawley Clarinet Moan

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Legendary clarinetist and contortionist Wilton Crawley often had an almost vaudevillian sound at times, particularly when he'd use a slap-tongue technique, make the clarinet sound like it was laughing, or simply solo on the mouthpiece without the rest of the instrument attached. But there's no denying this fellow could play the blues, and his jazz is solid enough. Teamed with pianist Eddie Heywood, banjoist John Truehart, and guitarist Eddie Lang, Crawley sounds plausible if somewhat bizarre. The clarinet shrieks, smirks, goes "hah-hah-hah," holds its nose, coughs, and burps. Crawley's way with a vocal is that of a scruffy little late-'20s jazz musician, maybe comparable to early Wingy Manone but slightly pixilated. (Was it Crawley who sang the wild vocal on Joe Venuti and Eddie Lang's "Sensation"? The voice seems quite similar.) Crawley wrote almost all of the titles on this album, which draws from the years 1927 and 1928. Worth obtaining, as his sounds are likely to grow on you.