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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby

Joan Records

SIDNEY BECHET

Portrait

BLUE classic line saban crescendo 7255

 


  1. Cake Walking Babies
  2. Basin St Blues
  3. Egyptian Fantasy
  4. Tailgate Rumble
  5. At the Jazz Band Ball
  6. Fidgety Feet
  7. Coquette
  8. Honey Suckle Rose
  9. On the Sunny Side of the Street
  10. Sugar
  11. High Society
  12. I’ve Found a New Baby
  13. Nobody Knows You When Your Down and Out
  14. When the Saints Go Marching In
  15. Tin Roof Blues
  16. I Got Rhythm
  17. September Song
  18. Who?
  19. Song of the Medina (Cabash)
  20. Careless Love

This selection of tracks which were all recorded in 1949 find Sidney Bechet in the company of Wild Bill Davidson (1,2,4,5,6,12,13,14,15,) and other such notables as Art Hodes, Walter Page, Wilbur de Paris and Buster Bailey. Hearing him in these various bands makes you realise what a dominant character he was, apparently a re-union with Louis Armstrong failed because they both wanted to boss the band!

Bechet who hailed from New Orleans spent his latter years in France where he became a national hero, there is even a statue of him in Antibes that was erected after his death in 1959. Tracks 7,8,910 & 11 were recorded with a French band.

His playing can always be easily identified, although he played clarinet, he preferred the Soprano Sax. At that time the saxophone had not been accepted in jazz circles so in a way he was a pioneer. Another identifier was the wide vibrato and the exceptional technique for the period, he also had enormous drive and swing, if Bechet was on the gig it had to swing, he would not allow otherwise and he had the power and energy to do it. Listen to the classic solo on High Society he strolls through it with ease.

The repertoire is interesting, although these tracks were recorded in 1949, they are still the same tunes that some Trad. Band will be playing in a pub somewhere in every town in Europe and a lot of the rest of the world! Whether this is a good thing is determined by how far you travel along the ‘jazz road’ before you want to get off. I enjoyed hearing the tunes again, but it is sometime since I heard them last. Once again you have to say of the ‘Portrait’ series, a good portrait of one of jazz’s great innovators in 1949.

Don Mather

 



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