273

Sidney Bechet: Up a Lazy River

Robert Spencer By

Sign in to view read count
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 vibrato, and his melodic sense of improvisation ranks him with the greatest masters.

For these reasons all hail the appearance of Up a Lazy River, which collects five Bechet sessions, with a varying supporting cast. All were recorded between 1940 and 1949. The music is uniformly outstanding: it's Bechet's patented neo-trad, firmly rooted in the New Orleans idiom but giving plenty of room to the soloists to stretch out. Besides Bechet, there is Muggsy Spanier, a cornetist with a big warm sound hardly heard these days. James P. Johnson plays piano on eight tracks. There's Pops Foster. Baby Dodds. Dick Wellstood. Bob Wilbur.

And there's so much to hear here! The ensemble work and the harmonies show the roots not only of the big bands but even of later "free" ensemble playing. The tunes are all attractive and fun, but the improvisations are far beyond that. Bechet was a master of concision, subtlety, and of the sheer sound of surprise - virtually every one of his solos on this disc takes an unexpected and delightful turn with remarkable fleetness and facility. Don't miss it!

Personnel:

Sidney Bechet, cl, ss, with Muggsy Spanier, Carmen Mastren, Wellman Braud, Albert Snaer, Buster Bailey, Wilbur DeParis, James P. Johnson, Walter Page, George Wettling, Henry Goodwin, Jimmy Archey, Dick Wellstood, Tommy Benford, George Brunis, Bob Wilbur, Danny Barker, Pops Foster, Baby Dodds, and Albert Nicholas.

Track listing: Sweet Lorraine / Up a Lazy River / China Boy / Four or Five Times / That's a Plenty / If I Could Be with You / Squeeze Me / Sweet Sue / I Got Rhythm / September Song / Who / Song of the Medina / Love Me with a Feeling / Polka Dot Stomp / Kansas City Man Blues / I'm Through, Goodbye / Waste No Tears / Baby, Won't You Please Come Home / Blues Improvisation / Broken Windmill / Without a Home.

| Record Label: Good Time Jazz | Style: Dixieland/New Orleans/Swing


Shop

More Articles

Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark CD/LP/Track Review The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Les Deux Versants Se Regardent CD/LP/Track Review Les Deux Versants Se Regardent
by John Sharpe
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Molto Bene CD/LP/Track Review Molto Bene
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read "Checkpoint" CD/LP/Track Review Checkpoint
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: August 6, 2016
Read "Tales From A Forbidden Land" CD/LP/Track Review Tales From A Forbidden Land
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 1, 2017
Read "Goodbye to Language" CD/LP/Track Review Goodbye to Language
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: August 14, 2016
Read "In Case Of Fire" CD/LP/Track Review In Case Of Fire
by Budd Kopman
Published: April 17, 2016
Read "Rub Out The Word" CD/LP/Track Review Rub Out The Word
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 21, 2016
Read "Spark" CD/LP/Track Review Spark
by Jeff Winbush
Published: April 1, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!