Sidney Bechet: Ken Burns Jazz

My latest adventure in my journey through 1000 Recordings To Hear Before You Die was this:

The name of the saxophonist is Sidney Bechet. The album is called Ken Burns Jazz. The caption for Tom Moon’s article is “The First Great Saxophone Soloist.” Bechet was part of a large Creole family in New Orleans, and originally played clarinet. When he discovered the soprano sax, he switched instruments immediately. “Suddenly Bechet was like a human siren—his wide vibrato careening atop whatever else was going on, the wild pitch-bends of the soprano offering him more expressive range than the clarinet ever could.” As he grew as a musician, Bechet included many tunes from the “Great American Songbook,” including a 1939 hit version of Gershwin’s “Summertime.”
This album was released in 2000, in conjunction with Ken Burns’s documentary on Jazz. Moon says it is the “best Bechet primer available.” As I listened to it, I found it to be delightful. This is the kind of jazz that I can listen to. I gave it a number of listens during my work day, and found that it was a nice background to my job. Unfortunately, the Rhapsody offering of this album does not include the song “Summertime,” which is one of Moon’s top tracks, along with “Wild Cat Blues,” “Shag,” and “Blue Horizon.” “Wild Cat Blues” reminds me of a piece I might hear in a Cabaret, as a background for dancing. “Texas Moaner Blues” was also an enjoyable piece. “Shag” is one of those rapid-fire pieces that is hard to keep up with. This is some fast jazz! “Blue Horizon” is sultry and slow blues. I was able to find “Summertime” on a different album. Also a nice, slow, bluesy piece.
Here is a clip from You Tube of “Summertime.”

And here is “Shag.”

I’m glad to know the music of Sidney Bechet. Yet another discovery from Tom Moon’s book that has enriched my life.

TTFN, y’all!


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