Monday, April 17, 2017

Sidney Bechet - King of the Soprano Saxophone

This is the first time an artist has made a repeat appearance in this blog; I posted about another of his albums here. Like that earlier post, this one features an album drawn from Bechet's period of living in France n the 1950s. The recordings date from 1952 to 1955, and were mostly recorded for the French Vogue label. The Contemporary label licensed twelve tracks and issued them on Good Time Jazz, their traditional jazz subsidiary, in 1956.

The heart of the record is a 1954 session which pairs Bechet with fellow American Jonah Jones and a French rhythm section. Jones is a powerful trumpet player, and there are moments that hint at Sidney's sometimes fraught musical relationship with strong trumpeters. The soprano sax and trumpet have similar ranges and Bechet, with his strong personality, was sometimes loath to defer to the trumpet's traditional lead role. But for the most part, the two veterans work well together, and pianist Andre Persiany plays impressively.

The album is filled out with tracks on which Bechet is accompanied by the "trad" bands of Claude Luter and Andrew Reweliotty. The young Frenchmen don't have much original to say, but Bechet is strong throughout. His sound, imagination, and vibrato make me think of Steve Lacy's comparison of Bechet's sonority to the sun.

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