If ever a disc could transport the listener direct to Paris, circa 1955, in the heat of a jumping jazz club, this is it. From the off the sound leaps right out of the speakers; brazen, strident and raw, Bechet’s clarinet (and soprano sax) seems to cut cleanly across time. Naturally beginning with the exquisite live version of Petite Fleur Bechet recorded in Salle Pleyel, Paris in 1952, this set then goes on to take in a broad swathe of Bechet’s work in the 50s, all of it full of swagger.
The two CDs in this package include the LPs Sidney Bechet Joue Sidney Bechet, Bravo! and Rendez-vous Avec Sidney Bechet, plus a selection of other Bechet compositions recorded around the same time as these. There are classic readings of Si Tu Vois Ma Mère, Ain’t Misbehavin’ and Who’s Sorry Now, plus lesser-heard tracks like Lastic and Ghost Of The Blues. Throughout, Bechet is accompanied by spirited trumpets, pianos, trombones – all displaying so much unbounded warmth and vivacity they make the Rio Carnival look monochrome.
Both studio and live versions of Petite Fleur are included, which make for an interesting comparison; in the studio Bechet coaxes the familiar refrain along at a moderate pace, giving it more of a melancholy feel, whereas the live version is almost euphoric when it hits the bridge, particularly the second time around.
This is a very fine set, with sumptuous photographs and detailed, insightful liner notes. Recommended.
CD1: Petite Fleur (live version); Marchand De Poissons; Tempéramental; Promenade Aux Champs-Élysées; A Moi D’payer; Les Onions; Dans Les Rues D’antibes; Premier Bal; Si Tu Vois Ma Mère; Passport To Paradise; Au Secours; Aa-Tu Le Cafard?; Moulin À Café; Moustache Gauloise; En Attendant Le Jour; Lastic; Kansas City Man Blues; Sidney’s Wedding Day; Ghost Of The Blues; Pattes De Mouche; Blues; Girl’s Dance; Madame Bécassine; Egyptian Fantasy; Petite Fleur (studio version) (78.27)
CD2: Bravo!; Aubergines, Poivrons Et Sauce Tomate; I Can’t Get Started; Souvenirs De La Nouvelle Orleans; Blue Festival 1958; Weary Blues; Ain’t Misbehavin’; Sugar; Who’s Sorry Now?; All Of Me; La Complainte Des Infidels; Brave Margot; Jacqueline; La Canne/Le Fossoyeur; Big Chief; Nuages; Elizabeth Ii; Pieure Pas Nelly (72.16)
Bechet (cl, ss); various personnel including Claude Luter & His Orchestra, André Réwéliotty & His Orchestra; Guy Longnon, Teddy Buckner (t). Various dates between 1950 and 1958.
Jazz Images 38100
Footnote: Steve Voce points out Bechet doesn’t play clarinet on this album. Sally Evans-Darby refers above to the liner notes, which state “Sidney Bechet, soprano sax and clarinet on all tracks”.