Sidney Bechet 1937-1938 [TrackList follows] – The Chronogical Classics
The Bechet Legacy [TrackList follows] – Bob Wilber & Glenn Zottola – Classic Jazz (2 CDs)

by | Jul 26, 2014 | Jazz CD Reviews

Sidney Bechet 1937-1938 [TrackList follows] – The Chronogical  Classics 593 [Distr. by Albany] ****:

The Bechet Legacy [TrackList follows] – Bob Wilber & Glenn Zottola – Classic Jazz Records CJ4 (2 CDs) ****:

(Bechet with Noble Sisle, Clarence Brereton, Gil White, ERskine Butterfield, Wendell Chully, Trixie Smith {vocals} & more)

(Bob Wilber – sop. sax & clarinet; Glenn Zottola – trumpet; Mark Shane – piano; Mike Peters – guitar & banjo; Len Skeat – bass; Butch Miles – drums; Pug Horton – vocals)

Sidney Bechet was the most famous soprano saxist ever and probably the first notable jazz saxophonist at all. He began recording even before Louis Armstrong and later played duets with Armstrong. He had a forceful delivery, great improvisations and a wide and strong vibrato style. He was one of the first important soloists in jazz. He was born in New Orleans in 1897 to a middle-class Creole family and found full appreciation only in France, where he died in 1959. He ran into some troubles due to his erratic temperament. He had been jailed for 11 months in Paris when he was involved in a shoot-out that wounded a passing lady. It was basically an argument over a fellow musician claiming that Bechet had played the wrong chord.

Bechet only had two recording sessions during the ‘30s under this own name, but he takes the main solos on just about all of these sides. Many of the ones early on this CD were when he was with the Noble Sissle group. The tracks sung by Trixi Smith are really something, and there are a couple numbers from a husband-and-wife vaudeville act which are not really jazz. The two tracks 12 and 13 are Part I and Part II of “My Daddy Rocks Me,” since the euphemistic tune was too long to fit on one side of the 10-inch 78.

The sound is not bad for the 1930s, and there is fairly complete discography of all 24 sides. I have some old tapes of Bechet, and this disc is certainly a major sonic improvement.


1. Bandana Days

2. I’m Just Wild About Harry

3. Dear Old Southland

4. Okey-Doke

5. Characteristic Blues

6. Viper Mad

7. Blackstick

8. When The Sun Sets Down South

9. Sweet Patootie

10. Freight Train Blues

11. Trixie Blues

12. My Daddy Rocks Me – Part I

13. My Daddy Rocks Me – Part II

14. He May Be Your Man, But He Comes To See Me Sometimes

15. Jack, I’m Mellow

16. Uncle Joe

17. I Am A Woman

18. Toot It, Brother Armstrong

19. Blue Monday On Sugar Hill

20. My Unusual Man

21. What A Dream – Sidney Bechet And His Orch

22. Hold Tight (Want Some Sea Food Mama) – Sidney Bechet And His Orch

23. Jungle Drums – Sidney Bechet And His Orch

24. Chant In The Night – Sidney Bechet And His Orch


Then after you’re dug the unique sounds of the real Sidney Bechet on soprano sax and clarinet, dig this double-CD set which preserves concerts the group Bechet Legacy recorded live at Birch Hall in England in both 1981 and 1982. Bob Wilber might be remembered from being a member of the Soprano Summit on Concord Jazz in the ‘70s.  He became Bechet’s protégé in 1946 and learned from the master, so this is a tribute with a lot of accurate and learned quality to it, though Wilber has not just copied Bechet. For example, there’s not quite the extreme vibrato which Bechet was known for. His wife Pug Horton does the vocals on two of the selections on the second CD, and while she doesn’t equal Trixi Smith on the Bechet originals she is quite good.

A similar CD from a live appearance by the group in Hamburg was released on the Nagel-Heyer label in 1996, but just a single CD. There’s a few French numbers here, such as “Promenade on the Champs-Elysees,” and “Dans le Rue D’Antibes,” but mostly it’s classics associated with Bechet, such as “The Mooche,” and “China Boy.” The sonics are terrific, though these were live concerts, and the notes by Scott Yanow are well worth reading.


  DISC 1

1. Oh, Lady Be Good
2. Down in Honky Tonk Town
3. Coal Cart Blues
4. Egyptian Fantasy
5. Lazy Blues
6. Summertime
7. The Mooche
8. Daydream
9. Si Tu Vois Ma Mere
10. Dans Le Rue D’antibes
11. I Keep Calling Your Name
12. Sweet Lorraine
  DISC 2
1. I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart
2. China Boy
3. I Got It Bad and That Ain’t Good
4. Just One of Those Things
5. Polka Dot Stomp
6. Happiness Is Just a Thing Called Joe
7. Dear Old Southland
8. Promenade Aux Champs-Elysses
9. Georgia Cabin
10. Memories of You
11. Swing That Music

—John Henry

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