Clarinet Thing

Founded and led by Beth Custer since 1990, Clarinet Thing is a quintet of five of the Bay Area's most virtuosic clarinetists. Clarinet Thing performs arrangements of Duke Ellington, Eubie Blake, John Carter, Bobby Bradford, Pixinguinha, Kurt Weill, Ignacy Podgorski and others as well as original compositions. The full range of the clarinet family is represented, giving the group a rich sonic palette.

Fifteen years of live recordings in Bay Area cafes, bars, churches, and concert halls were gleaned for their 2005 CD release "Agony Pipes and Misery Sticks", two slang terms for the clarinet. Come be blown away by agony pipes and misery sticks!

Beth Custer is a San Francisco based composer, performer, bandleader, clarinet teacher, and the proprietress of BC Records.

She is a founding member of the notorious silent film soundtrack purveyors the "Club Foot Orchestra", 4th world ambient ensemble "Trance Mission", the trip-hop duo "Eighty Mile Beach", the Latin-jazz-rock influenced "Doña Luz 30 Besos", and the Beth Custer Ensemble.

Beth has been composer for the cutting edge dance-theater troupe the Joe Goode Performance Group for over 10 years, having composed for seven of their productions. Recent soundtrack work includes a season of the cartoon "The Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat" for CBS/Film Roman, "Independent View" theme for KQED television, as well as many indie films, most notably those of Cathy Crane, Craig Baldwin, Esther Paik, Will Zavala, and Kwon & Iger. Theater compositions include productions by California Shakespeare Company, Campo Santos, Magic Theater, and Berkeley and San Diego Repertory Theaters.

As a free-lance clarinetist, Beth has performed with Fred Frith, Chris Cutler, Connie Champagne, Jin Hi Kim, Miya Masaoka, Will Bernard, Grassy Knoll, Violent Femmes, Joshua Brody, Sky Cries Mary, Snakefinger and many others.

Ben Goldberg grew up in Denver, Colorado. He received his undergraduate music degree from the University of California, Santa Cruz and a Master of Arts in Composition from Mills College. He was a pupil of the eminent clarinetist Rosario Mazzeo, and studied with Steve Lacy and Joe Lovano.

Ben’s group "New Klezmer Trio" took a slightly different view of Jewish music. Their CD, "Masks and Faces", was listed as one of the ten best recordings of 1992 by Cadence magazine. "Masks and Faces", "Melt Zonk Rewire, and the group's third CD, "Short for Something", are on the Tzadik label. Ben's other recordings include two records by Junk Genius (with John Schott, Trevor Dunn, and Kenny Wollesen), "Here by Now" (Music and Arts), "What Comes Before" (Tzadik), "Eight Phrases for Jefferson Rubin" (Victo), "Twelve Minor" (Avant), and "Light at the Crossroads", co-led with Marty Ehrlich (Songlines).

Clarinetist and multi-instrumentalist Ralph Carney has spent the better part of the last 2 decades criss-crossing the world, on stage and in studios with the likes of Tom Waits, Jonathan Richman, William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, the B-52’s, Marc Ribot, Bill Laswell, Hal Wilner, and Elvis Costello.

Clarinetist, composer and woodwind multi-instrumentalist Sheldon Brown formed the Sheldon Brown Group in 1993, and in 1996 he released the jazz/fusion CD "Shifting Currents". Brown tours internationally (most recently with pianist Omar Sosa) to world-renowned venues such as the North Sea Jazz Festival, Moers Jazz Festival, Vancouver Jazz Festival, Jazz d'Or, Toronto Jazz Festival and the Spoleto Festival. He is featured on Omar Sosa's CDs "Prietos", "Bembon", "Spirit of the Roots" and "Free Roots" and on Ian Dogole's CDs "Ionospheres" and "Night Harvest".

Brown is a member of San Francisco's Club Foot Orchestra, for whom he has composed scores for Film Roman's cartoon series "The Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat" and silent films such as Fritz Lang's "Metropolis", Buster Keaton's "Sherlock Jr." and "Cops", G. W. Pabst's "Pandora's Box" and Robert Wiene's "Hands of Orlac". Club Foot has performed at New York's Knitting Factory, Walter Reade Theater, at Lincoln Center and the Smithsonian Institution, in Washington, D.C. Brown performed in Anthony Braxton's "Composition No. 132" at Grace Cathedral as part of the 1986 San Francisco Jazz Festival. He also performs regularly with the Realistic Orchestra. He currently teaches composition at the Jazzschool in Berkeley, California.

Sheldon appeared at Chez Hanny previously with the group "Hemispheres", with Ian Dogole, Paul McCandless and Bill Douglass, and with the Sheldon Brown Group.

The 1998 All Music Guide to Jazz calls clarinetist and saxophonist Harvey Wainapel ”one of the most promising and versatile players of his generation”. Wainapel’s heavy involvement with the music of Brazil has led to performances with masters of the genre such as Airto Moreira, Flora Purim, and Dori Caymmi. In addition, he has also performed with jazz greats McCoy Tyner, Joe Lovano, Ray Charles, and Joe Henderson, and he has toured more than 20 countries as a bandleader. He has released 3 CDs accompanied by musicians such as Kenny Barron, Larry Grenadier, Kenny Wollesen and the Metropole Orchestra.