Sidney Bechet

07-01-13 LISTN Sidney BechetEver­est Records’ Archive series gives me a selec­tion of fine New Orleans tunes by one of the most ver­sa­tile of ear­ly jazzmen. Bechet (1897–1959) played many instru­ments, but was best known on sopra­no sax, clar­inet, and cor­net. He was a prodi­gy, dis­cov­ered at the age of eight by Fred­dy Kep­pard, and employed in Keppard’s band at eleven. Great­ly admired as a high­ly cre­ative and indi­vid­ual per­former by oth­er jazzmen (notably Duke Elling­ton), Bechet was a cul­tured and poet­ic man, who divid­ed his time between Europe and Amer­ica, and after WW2, mar­ried and end­ed his days in France. It’s said that he was the mod­el for the char­ac­ter “Pablo” in Her­mann Hesse’s Step­pen­wolf. This is quite pos­si­ble. In 1929, he appeared with his own band at the Haus Vater­land café in Berlin, where Hesse could eas­ily have seen him. Some of the cuts on this disk fea­ture Lionel Hamp­ton, and Bechet’s pow­er­ful vibra­to is deli­ciously echoed by his vibes. The Ever­est vinyl is prob­a­bly hard to find, but there’s a good cd col­lec­tion called The Leg­endary Sid­ney Bechet, which includes his per­for­mances with the New Orleans Feet­warm­ers, Tom­my Lad­nier, Jel­ly Roll Mor­ton, and Dr. Hen­ry Levine.

Comments are closed.