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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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French Movies

Moochin' About



Série Noire

1. Pourtant

2. Un Ange comme ça

3. South Rampart Street Parade

4. Blues dans le Blues

5. A Moi d’payer

6. Trottoirs de Paris

L’Inspecteur connait la Musique

7. Les Hommes sont généreux/ L’Enchainée de l’amour

8. I Had It but it’s All Gone Now

9. Halle Hallelujah

Ah! Quelle Equipe!

10. Jumpin’ Jack

11. Passport to Paradis

12. Coquin de Boubou

13. Haou Haou Coucou

14. Chacun sa chance

15. Shake ‘em Up

16. Un Coup de cafard

17. Sans vous fâcher, répondez moi

18. Le Train du vieux noir

19. Le Bidon

Did you know that Sidney Bechet was a film star? Neither did I, but the evidence is on this CD, which contains music from three films in which Bechet appeared. Sidney wasn’t especially a star, as he usually appeared simply as a musician playing at a club. He had already performed as a musician in films in 1952 and 1953. Early in 1955 he had a part in a melodrama entitled Série Noire. In May 1955 he appeared in a film called L’Inspecteur connait la Musique, also known as Blues, in which Bechet was accidentally killed by a character played by clarinettist Claude Luter. In 1957 (not 1956, as the sleeve-notes aver) Bechet had a role in Ah Quelle Equipe!, his last movie appearance.

The people involved in these recordings are not listed, although clarinettist Claude Luter is definitely present. But the main musical interest is Bechet, to the forefront as usual. In the first of these three films his keening soprano sax rises above the other musicians in the emotive Pourtant and A moi d’payer, and he plays with exciting fluency in Un ange comme ça.

Sidney was given a stronger role in the second film, where I Had It but It’s All Gone is a revised version of a tune that Bechet recorded with Bob Wilber in 1947. The opening melody moves from the plaintive Les Hommmes sont généreux to the optimistic L’Enchainée de l’amour. Halle Hallelujah is a fast, bright piece based on the chords of I Got Rhythm which I know better as Dans les rues d’Antibes.

Ah! Quelle Equipe! has no fewer than eleven songs from the film. They are a typical Bechet-style mix of melancholy tunes and rousing up-tempo numbers. I particularly like the drum breaks in Shake ‘em Up. Un coup de cafard sounds very much like St James Infirmary. Containing 64 minutes of memorable music, this album is not only a historical document but also a mixture of performances by Sidney Bechet at his very best.

Tony Augarde

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