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

SIDNEY BECHET VOL 2. 1938 - 1950







Sidney Bechet - clarinet & soprano saxophone with His Bluenote Quartet, His Bluenote Jazzmen, His Quintet, His New Orleans Feetwarmers, Noble Sissle's Orchestra, Tommy Ladnier's Orchestra, The Joshua White Trio, The Bechet Spanier Big Four, Bob Wilber's Wildcats and Humphrey Lyttleton & His Orchestra.

1. Blackstick
2. When The Sun Sets Down South
3. Sweet Sue, Just You
4. Careless Love
5. Summertime
6. Weary Blues
7. Milk Cow Blues
8. Saturday Night Blues
9. Bechet's Steady Rider
10. St. Louis Blues
11. Shake 'em Up
12. Laura
13. Georgia On My Mind
14. Jelly Roll Blues
15. Sister Kate
16. Tiger Rag
17. Kansas City Man Blues
18. Polka Dot Stomp

This is a most welcome re-issue of a compilation of some of the finest recorded performances of Sidney Bechet. I particularly enjoyed the mix of straight ahead jazz interpretations and the fine accompaniments of blues artists. The leader's clarinet and soprano saxophone are well to the fore throughout - I think it would have been impossible for Bechet to take a back seat, his forceful personality is always reflected in his playing. He is assuredly the sort of musician one either loves or hates - I have been an admirer of his style ever since I first experienced his music when I was in my teens - this was quite a departure from the so called "Hippy " music of the time!
Some of the material here is not what one would term the usual fare associated with Bechet. In particular I would cite the
standard tunes "Summertime" and "Laura". These serve to illustrate the artist as an all-round performer rather than just an exponent of the New Orleans style. If one ignores the instantly recognisable tone redolent with its sumptuous vibrato and imagines these numbers played on an alto or tenor saxophone then the player would seem much more of a mainstream interpreter. "Summertime" is an excellent version with a sense of real drama in the reading. "Laura " is perhaps played a little faster than is normal but it is effective nevertheless.
"Milkcow Blues" and "Careless Love" feature the vocals of Josh White and are highly enjoyable renditions in more of a blues style. Judging by Bechet's playing on these numbers, he was obviously very comfortable in this idiom. "Weary Blues " is an excellent illustration of the driving New Orleans ensemble. This has the almost forgotten, but highly significant Tommy Ladnier on trumpet and the trombone part is covered by Mezz Mezzrow on tenor saxophone.
"Georgia On My Mind " is an early recording by the Humphrey Lyttelton band and they rise to the occasion and acquit themselves more than adequately with their rather daunting American guest ( Bechet was quite famous for being difficult to get along with when the mood suited him).
All of the tracks on this disc are strong and the sheer variety makes it a very desirable purchase.

Dick Stafford

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