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"Vassar Clements (It's Hard To Say Goodbye)"

This sad news came in our email today, August 16th, 2005. 
"Fiddler virtuoso Vassar Clements dead at 77 " 

Misty and I knew Vassar Clements 
from an album we recorded together 
at Muscle Shoals, Alabama, around 1978. 

He was not only a fiddle player, 
He was also a violinist. 
It's the same instrument, different styles of playing... 
completely different approaches to music. 
Vassar could play country, jazz, and all the rest. 

He and Misty hit it off 
and did some great jamming at the recording sessions. 
Neither one of them had a formal music education, 
but had that odd kind of genius 
mistakenly referred to as "by ear". 

It's more a thing of the mind and heart than the ear, 
and includes a photographic memory for music. 
It's an ability to play things perfectly the first time, 
without written notes, 
and to play it a new way. 
Vassar Clements and Misty Morgan 
never had to retake or overdub an instrumental part. 

Vassar impressed us as a gentle man, 
who looked like a tough guy. 
On the street, nobody would peg him as an artist. 
They might step off the sidewalk so as not to get in his way. 
But he was an artist, 
or maybe "artiste" is a closer word. 

We have always been fans of both country and jazz fiddle players. 
Our favorite jazz violin players (in random order) are : 
Joe Venuti, Stefan Grapelli, Jean-Luc Ponti, 
Johnny Gimbel, and Vassar Clements. 
I should also mention the great Buddy Spicher, 
who played on most of our country records. 

Vassar Clements' music 
was one of the good things in the world. 
We wish he could have played for 77 more years, 
but that's not the way it works. 

Misty says: 
"Life is a rental. 
You pay for it while you use it, 
and then you have to give it back." 

But great music makes the hard times easier, 
and the good times better. 
It's entwined in most of our fond memories. 
That's what Vassar Clements devoted his life to. 

It's hard to say goodbye. 

*     *     * 

One of the recordings Vassar made with Misty 
can be heard at this website: 
http://www.kokosuniverse.com/jm/wma/still_comin_down.htm 

Jack Blanchard. 

Copyright  August 16, 2005 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. 

 

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