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. Short-lived as the King Jazz label proved to be, this music gives us some flavor of Bechet's magic on both the clarinet and the soprano sax. His co-leader Milt "Mezz Mezzrow was also a clarinetist and composer and while simpatico in spirit, in truth he was not remotely in the same league as Bechet as a musician.
Among the tunes are the two separate and distinct parts of Mezzrow's "Revolutionary Blues. Part 1 begins with a slow and insinuating wah-wah sound while Part 2 is a breezier fun piece made to set toes a-tappin'. Trumpeter Hot Lips Page and Mezzrow are each prominent, but it's the high, burning, full-bodied sweetness of Bechet's saxophone that grabs listeners. Along with other gems like "Minor Swoon, "Bowin' the Blues and an especially down and dirty blues, "Funky Butt, played by guys who know how, we're talkin' post-WWII classic Dixieland sugar.
Track Listing: House Party; Revolutionary Blues Part 1; Revolutionary Blues Part 2; Minor Swoon; Bowin' The Blues; Jelly Roll; Perdido Street Stomp; Out Of the Gallion; Gone Away Blues; Groovin' the Minor; Really the Blues 1; Really the Blues 2; Whoop Miss Wolf Away From the Door; Tommy's Blues; Chicago Function 1; Chicago Function 2; Where Am I?; I'm Speaking My Mind; I Want Some; Kaiser's Last Break; Funky Butt; Blues Of the Roaring Twenties.
Personnel: Sidney Bechet: soprano saxophone and clarinet.
I've always loved jazz ...my mother was a classical pianist and my aunt was a blues singer, who was managed by Clarence Williams (Bessie Smith's producer). As a young boy, they introduced me to people like Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, and Jimmy Smith
I've always loved jazz ...my mother was a classical pianist and my aunt was a blues singer, who was managed by Clarence Williams (Bessie Smith's producer). As a young boy, they introduced me to people like Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, and Jimmy Smith. We hung out at my Aunt Kate's Soul Food restaurant in Harlem after the matinees at the Apollo where I listened to their stories. I knew I wanted to be a jazz musician from then on. My mother wanted me to play piano, but my Aunt bought me a guitar. I've been playing ever since.
At my mother's early prompting, I first sang Blue Velvet at my Catholic elementary school...and all the nuns came running in and asked me to sing again, so I knew I must have sounded pretty good. I've been singing ever since.
I met Tony Bennett in Miami and he inspired me to return to New York. He was a great mentor.
The best show I ever attended is mpossible to say, I've seen so many great shows. From Tony Bennett to Pat Martino, Return to Forever to Weather Report...I've seen some great performances.
My advice to new listeners is don't let jazz intimidate you, the music has something for every listener and it is our American gift to the world.