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Clarinets Direct is fortunate to count many of the UK's finest clarinettists amongst our clienetele. One such was the late legendary Keith Bird. Keith's career started in the Desert Air Force Band, and led to him being one of the top session musicians. Always in demand as clarinettist and saxophonist for Film and TV work, he bought this Contra new in the 1960's. Perhaps the instruments most famous credit, is being featured in the original "Cantina band music" in George Lucas' Star Wars.
This is an early model 350 G. Leblanc, Paris, EEb ContraAlto clarinet, in metal, range to low C, [commonly known as the Paperclip]. This model has a fully automatic single register key touchpiece which operates 2 different over blowing vents. This clarinet features three trill keys, unlike the Leblanc BBb which has only one. The body is Nickel Silver, and is in pristine condition. The instrument has just had a full and complete overhaul by Alan Andrews, Contra specialist player, repairer, and designer of quite extaordinary ability. The original Leblanc reflectors have been polished and re-fitted with new pads throughout. Keith preferred to play this Contra with a Selmer D Contra-Alto m'piece. Because the Selmer Contra-Alto m'piece is of smaller design than the BBb of Selmer and Contra Leblancm'pieces, Keith had an ebonite sleeve made to fit into the receiver crook of the tenon. However the original Leblanc m'piece is also included in the sale, so, if the new owner desires, the sleeve can be removed and the Contra played with the Leblanc original m'piece. However, I understand that the late Bill Wrathel, of Michael White Musical Intruments, kept the Selmer m'piece in good condition for Keith, so my feeling is that the instrument is best played with this m'piece. The matching serial nos. on all pieces are 300, which probably dates to the early 1960's, Leblanc serial number lists found on line are unreliable. The original case is in good condition, and the EEb comes with a selection of reeds and reed case. Finally: It gives me great pleasure to share a photgraph of Keith with other eminent American musicians taken whilst on tour in the USA. Amongst others: Stan Getz, Dizzy Gillespie, Errol Garner [I think] and Charlie Parker are featured. Apparently, after the meal, Keith went back to Charlie Parker's apartment to meet his wife and daughter.