Top 10 Clarinet Albums

Top 10 Clarinet Albums

By Nick Ellman, of Naughty Professor

Nick Ellman holding saxophoneWe all know that “top ten” anything lists are subjective to the author so you should know I am not claiming to have the definitive list of greatest clarinet albums. I simply have compiled a list of my top ten favorite clarinet albums (non-classical) that are meaningful to me. 

There are too many amazing players with great albums to fit them all on a top ten list so I had to be really critical of what has made the biggest impact on me. This was a difficult process to narrow down but my criteria was based on two things: demonstrates exemplary ability on the clarinet and/or pushes the instrument forward stylistically. I also tried to pick albums where the clarinet is prominently featured throughout the entire album. 

I would be remiss if I didn’t at least shout out some of the amazing clarinetists who didn’t make my list but deserve honorable mentions like Edmond Hall, Barney Bigard, Alvin Batiste, Pee Wee Russell, John Carter, Pete Fountain, Dr. Michael White, Don Byron, Anat Cohen, Evan Christopher, Doreen Ketchens, plus so many reed doublers like Jimmy Hamilton and Russell Procope of Duke Ellington’s band, Jimmy Dorsey, David Murray, Woody Herman, and Jimmy Giuffre just to name a few. 

With that said, I present my top ten clarinet albums in no particular order.


Benny Goodman – “Live at Carnegie Hall 1938


Sidney Bechet – The Essential Sidney Bechet


Louis Armstrong – Muskrat Ramble


Louis Armstrong – Mardi Gras: Dixieland Jazz of New Orleans


Buddy DeFranco – Buddy DeFranco And Oscar Peterson Play George Gershwin


Artie Shaw – Begin The Beguine


Ivo Papazov – Best Of


Eddie Daniels – Blue Bossa


Eric Dolphy – Out To Lunch


Rosenberg Trio – Roots 

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Nick Ellman is a professional musician based in New Orleans, LA. Ellman started playing clarinet when he was nine years old and has always had an affinity for the instrument. In 2013, he earned a Bachelor of Music (“Jazz Studies”) from Loyola University New Orleans with clarinet as his primary instrument. While he regularly performs on alto and baritone saxophones with his band Naughty Professor, clarinet has always had a special place in his heart being his first love.

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