Sidney Bechet - The Complete RCA VICTOR Master Tapes, 1932-43   (3-RCA DRCD11203)
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Sidney Bechet - The Complete RCA VICTOR Master Tapes, 1932-43   (3-RCA DRCD11203)
PE0360. SIDNEY BECHET. The Complete RCA-VICTOR Master Tapes. 3-RCA DRCD11203, transfers from Bechet's legendary 78s, 1932-43, Long out-of-print, Final Copy! - 8436006492037


“Sidney Joseph Bechet, the American jazz clarinetist, saxophonist, and composer, was born on May 14, 1897, in New Orleans, Louisiana. One of the first important jazz soloists, his recordings precede those of Louis Armstrong, three years his junior, with whom he would later play duets. Noted for well-conceived improvisations and a wide vibrato on both clarinet and soprano sax, Bechet, though initially making the clarinet his primary instrument, may well have been the first well-known jazz saxophonist and the first great soprano saxophonist, giving it a prominent place in jazz. Bechet’s compositions include jazz and pop-tune forms, as well as extended concert works.

As part of his research for his book MR. JELLY ROLL, Alan Lomax recorded, in April 1949, first-hand recollections by Sidney’s brother Leonard Bechet, Albert Glenny, Johnny St. Cyr, Alphonse Picou, and Paul Dominguez, Jr., about early New Orleans jazz and Creole music. They recounted that older Creoles had avoided jazz and favored the polite music of their own Down-town dance halls, just as they spoke French or their own patois and attended plays in French in order to maintain their culture.

At the age of nineteen, Bechet left New Orleans for Chicago with pianist Clarence Williams. In 1918 he joined Lawrence Duhé’s band, but his career was launched in 1919 when conservatory-trained, African-American composer-conductor Will Marion Cook (memorably portrayed in Josef Škvoreck�’s novel, DVORAK IN LOVE) asked Sidney to join his Southern Syncopated Orchestra for a performance in London. There, Bechet met the eminent Swiss conductor of the Ballets russes, Ernest Ansermet, famed for his performances of Ravel and Stravinsky.

Four days after a March 3rd 1940 benefit for the California migrant workers, folksinger Josh White assembled a trio that included bassist Wilson Myers and Sidney Bechet, clarinet, for one of his first recordings for the two-year-old Blue Note label, a recording designed for the white listener for whom jazz was serious, not dance, music. In a 1950 interview with British music critic Dennis Preston, White (who had also started out in his career playing with pianist Clarence Williams) opined that like his own Sidney Bechet’s music overlapped the categories of jazz and folk. In contrast to the then-new genre of bebop (which he disliked).

Bechet was one of the first jazz musicians to be appreciated by classical audiences and critics and to be rated on a par with Louis Armstrong by the New Orleans jazz aficionados, not to mention by Duke Ellington (whose lead alto sax player, Johnny Hodges, had, in his teens, studied with Bechet). Ellington said that Bechet was ‘the very epitome of jazz.... [E]verything he played in his whole life was completely original. I honestly think he was the most unique man ever to be in this music�.

Bechet appeared on several radio shows associated with Alan Lomax, such as the one with Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee, Woody Guthrie, Hally Wood, Pops Foster, and Cisco Houston and the Coleman Brothers, on a Columbia Broadcasting System program (March, 10 1947), HOOTENANNY: A MUSICAL CARPET OF AMERICAN FOLK MUSIC, hosted by John Henry Faulk, written and directed by Alan Lomax, and announced by Bill Rogers. .

Shortly before his death in Paris on his 62d birthday, May 14, 1959, Bechet dictated his autobiography, TREAT IT GENTLE (London: Cassell, 1960). His influence extended far: among the existentialists of Paris, he was 'le dieu'; the British poet Philip Larkin wrote an ode to Bechet in THE WHITSUN WEDDINGS.�

- Peter Stone,