​Clarinetists were some of the first "pop stars", a phenomenon that emerged in the 1930s, thanks to the radio and the phonograph. Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw, the Kings of Swing and Clarinet, respectively, were known from coast to coast, although Louis Armstrong had paved the way.  By the '40s, Glenn Miller's orchestra dominated the pop music scene with his arrangements featuring a clarinet lead.  The "licorice stick" was supreme.

By the 1950s, vocalists—like Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, and Frank Sinatra, introduced by the big band leaders of the Swing Era—had overshadowed their mentors' fame, soon followed by Elvis Presley and rock and roll, again, led by innovators like Chuck Berry.  By the 1960s, kids listened to The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and later Jimi Hendrix.  The electric guitar had become the instrument of choice for most young musicians.

In 1965, Keith started playing clarinet and listening to Pete Fountain and Benny Goodman.​

Hot Stuff
Original song featuring Lia Booth on vocals with Keith Ward & The BlackWood Jazz Combo

Stylish renditions of great jazz classics from Benny Goodman and more.

Hire Me for Your Recording Project

The unlikely journey of a jazz licorice-stick player . . .

Keith Ward, Clarinet on SoundBetter


You can hire me to record clarinet or alto sax tracks remotely from my own studio for projects using the latest technologies in a very collaborative process.  I would love to hear about your project and explain how it works, and it's probably more affordable than you think.  Just click the Soundbetter.com badge to find out more. 


Live After Five (Full CD)
Keith Ward & The BlackWood Jazz Combo, with Lia Booth (Lia Marsh)

A Different Path


​Jazz on a Stick

Swing Ghosts Album


Selections from Keith's live performances with The BlackWood Jazz Combo.  This is a DOWNLOADABLE MP3 for publicity.

. . . in the 21st Century


Swing Ghosts (Album)
Keith Ward with Rail City Jazz

Available for download and streaming (click here).