The Gregory Agid Quartet celebrates Words Are Not Enough
at the Louisiana Music Factory, 1/7

Clarinetist Gregory Agid is a familiar face around town due to his work with a variety of bands and musicians including Delfeayo Marsalis and the Uptown Jazz Orchestra, the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, and Kristina Morales. He will be performing at 3 PM on Saturday at the Louisiana Music Factory.

Agid represents a new generation of players attracted to the clarinet. The instrument was an integral part of jazz in its early years and the names of its first practitioners—Johnny Dodds and Alphonse Picou among them—are legendary. But it fell out of favor among jazz musicians when bebop and modern jazz styles became more popular.

Yet, it remained common in New Orleans with prominent players such as Pete Fountain, Dr. Michael White, and Tim Laughlin. Another musician, Alvin Batiste, who was better known as a music instructor than a live performer but had a thoroughly modern approach to the instrument, had a profound influence on Agid and other players of his generation and the generation that preceded him.

“The novelty of the clarinet kind of died off in jazz during the ’50s when Charlie Parker became popular,” Agid says. “Since then, clarinettists haven’t greatly influenced the scene. The clarinet has generally been stereotyped as old-fashioned since it’s commonly used to play older styles of jazz, and its sound is rarely marketed as modern.”

However, there are other modern players on the scene nationally, but they are few and far between. Anat Cohen, a New York-based player of Israeli origin, played two separate sets at a recent Jazz Fest. One was traditionally based, but the other was thoroughly modern. With his new album, add Agid to that number.

“My music is very much based on the musical traditions upheld by musicians before me,” Agid explains. “I see myself as being in a cultural continuum of music—picking up where the greats left off and moving the music to the next logical step.”

Gregory Agid was born in San Antonio, Texas and grew up in Honolulu, Hawaii. He got his first clarinet at the age of seven. Five years later he discovered jazz when his family moved to New Orleans.

After attending the Louis Armstrong Jazz Camp, he matriculated through high school at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA). His illustrious class included other well-known players including pianist and Late Show with Stephen Colbert bandleader Jon Batiste, Grammy-nominated bandleader Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews, and Grammy-nominated trumpet player Christian Scott.

After high school, Agid majored in clarinet performance at Loyola University and graduated in 2010. He released his debut recording, Mystery Blues, in 2013. The new album is his sophomore effort. His quartet features Joshua Starkman on guitar, Max Moran on bass and AJ Hall on drums. They also play every Tuesday night at the Maison on Frenchmen Street between 6:30-9:30 PM.

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