One of my favorite albums of all time is Miles Davis’ “Bitches Brew”. Throughout the whole album you hear Bennie Maupin’s haunting bass clarinet parts improvising around the edges and holes in the sound. When I first got heavily into this album is when I truly fell in LOVE with the bass clarinet!
A few years back, I was doing some sessions with recording engineer Karen Stackpole and talking to her about my desire to bring some improvisational bass clarinet tracks into my album. She recommended Cornelius Boots to me. I discovered that Cornelius was the mastermind behind an inventive bass clarinet quartet called Edmond Welles. I listened to their stuff – so hard to categorize – equal parts new chamber music, heavy metal (the overtones of the instrument lend themselves so well to open 5ths!), jazz … I was sold. I contacted him and made arrangements to record him.
He ended up playing a solo on “Turtle” and an improvisation duo with bansuri (played by my good friend Linton Hale) on “Flesh of the Land”. Linton and Cornelius had never played together at that point, but their interlocking improvisations they created together was quite beautiful! Cornelius was such a pleasure to work with and he laid down some great tracks!
During these sessions, I also discovered that Cornelius played the Shakuhachi (traditional Japanese bamboo flute). I recently ran into him and discovered that he now plays Shakuhachi exclusively. He performs/records Shakuhachi solo and also plays in an incredible Shakuhachi/gongs ensemble with my friend Karen Stackpole called Sabbiticus Rex. Cornelius describes Sabbiticus Rex as an ensemble rooted in “the supremacy of sound over music – primordial easy-listening for dinosaurs: slowly shifting elemental improvisations from fat flutes and huge gongs, completely acoustic”.
Check out his website below: