Clarke is generally considered one of the greatest cornetists of all time. His first cornet was a government-issued one; he was given it while a member of the Queens Own Rifle Band, part of the Canadian Armed Forces. He was good enough for Sousa’s Band, so much so that John Philip didn’t want to let him go. You see, Clarke had informed Sousa several times that he’d planned to retire at the age of 50. He considered it an age when cornetists generally lost their ability. Sousa tried to dissuade him, saying he thought Clarke’s playing to be better than ever. “Then I’ll quit while I’m ahead,” he replied. And sure enough, he did.
So Wynton Marsalis is generally known for his trumpet-playing…if you’ve never heard him on cornet, or even if you have…click here to see him with the Boston Pops. Just…wow.