Nobody ever failed to
recognise Sidney Bechet; he had a big
sound and a big vibrato. He was also a
very important figure in jazz, being the
first major player to make the Soprano
saxophone his main instrument. Bechet
is one of those players that you either
like or hate, there is no in between.
He preferred to play the lead line, taking
the place of the Cornet or Trumpet in
the traditional jazz line up.
The first two tracks
have him paired with that excellent trombonist
Vic Dickenson and that combination works
well. Mezz Mezzrow is involved in the
next ten tracks, not one of my favourite
jazz clarinettists! Track 3,4&5 however
have the benefit of the very talented
Hot Lips Page on trumpet. Tracks 6 to
12 feature the Mezzrow-Bechet Quintet,
which Bechet used on a lot of his recordings.
Track 13 has Bechet featured
with Bob Wilbur’s Band, Bob was a Bechet
student who later developed his own individual
style and worked with many bands including
that of Benny Goodman, it is said that
Benny was very impressed with Wilbur’s
clarinet playing, which was a real complement!
Tracks 14 to 16 have
Bechet working with Humph’s Band, which
included Keith Christie and Wally Fawkes
at the time. Keith of course moved on
top be a star of the Ted Heath Band. For
most of the latter part of his life Bechet
lived in France where he was a national
celebrity, the last two tracks feature
him the band of Claude Luter.
Bechet has a significant
place in jazz history; he spent more time
in the Europe than in the USA and is significantly
better known on this side of the Atlantic
The album has a good
sleeve note by Scott Yanow and comprehensive
personnel listings; it is very representative
of Bechet’s recorded work.