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Articles | Stream | Future

BUILDING A JAZZ LIBRARY

Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?

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This article was originally published in September 2005. Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans? The Big Easy. The Crescent City. N'awlins. Some adore it, some despise it. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans continues to be the testimonial travesty of the United States. With certain political officials claiming that jny: New Orleans is “not worth rebuilding, I would have to strongly object. Anyone who has ever enjoyed a beignet with ...

BOOK EXCERPTS

On Highway 61: Music, Race, and the Evolution of Cultural Freedom

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The following is an excerpt from the “Spirituals to Swing" chapter of On Highway 61: Music, Race, and the Evolution of Cultural Freedom by Dennis McNally (Counterpoint Press, Berkeley, 2014). Danny Barker, who in the 1930s was Cab Calloway's guitarist, told a particularly revealing story of working at the Nest Club, a Harlem after-hours joint. Business would be dead when the doorman buzzed three loud rings to indicate that they had prospects coming. The band would strike ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Sidney Bechet & Mezz Mezzrow: The King Jazz Records Story

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Three decades before Norman Mailer in 1957 drew attention to the social phenomenon of the “white negro," Mezz Mezzrow claimed to be just that. To use his own terminology, he was “a voluntary negro." Actually an American Jew, he played clarinet in the 1930s and 40s, often, as here, alongside Sidney Bechet. He supplemented his meager earnings as a musician by supplying marijuana to fellow jazzmen, including--famously--Louis Armstrong. He sold so much that for a while a ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Sidney Bechet: Sidney Bechet

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Sidney Bechet (1897-1959) is a legendary jazz figure whose range of instruments included soprano, tenor and bass saxophones, piano, bass, drums and, most famously, the clarinet. A true jazz star, Bechet's graceful playing and structural skill made him into the first significant jazz soloist, even before his fellow New Orleans native, Louis Armstrong. This collection is a mix of sides from sessions made for King Jazz in New York (1945) and Chicago (1947) with varying blues-oriented bands. ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Sidney Bechet: Mosaic Select 23

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Sidney Bechet Mosaic Select 23: Sidney Bechet Mosaic Records 2006

In August 2004, in a back street in the German town of Konstanz, I heard his music played by an itinerant Italian clarinetist. Days later in Spain, in front of Barcelona cathedral, I heard a different clarinetist and a different Bechet tune. Back in Germany a year later, another Italian and more Bechet.

These guys weren't even jazz musicians, unlike Evan Christopher, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Sidney Bechet: Mosaic Select

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Sidney Bechet was one of the first jazz virtuosos, dominating nearly every recording session in which he took part. Though his Blue Note and RCA Victor recordings are better known due to frequent reissues, there is a lot of rare, valuable material here. This limited-edition compilation collects many of his recordings (plus fourteen previously unissued selections) under the Sony music umbrella, including tracks made for Columbia, Okeh, Variety and Vocalion, all with greatly improved remastering. Disc one ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Sidney Bechet: Sidney Bechet, 1938-1952

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New Orleans jazz legend Sidney Bechet was all the rage in Paris in the late '40s and early '50s, when he recorded the sides included on disc one of this new two-CD package. After some lean years in the US, when he temporarily dropped out of the music business to run a tailor shop in Harlem, Bechet journeyed to Paris, where his blend of traditional jazz and full-bodied swing made him the toast of the town. He'd live out the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Sidney Bechet: Up a Lazy River

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Sidney Bechet was the first master of the soprano saxophone, and indeed, the father of all the others: when the instrument was almost forgotten, Steve Lacy heard Bechet play Duke Ellington's “The Mooche." Then John Coltrane was somehow (there are different versions of the story) introduced to the soprano by Lacy. And the rest is history.

But Bechet's work still remains among the foremost explications of the possibilities of the soprano saxophone, for no one since has approached his ocean-wide ...


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