Sidney Bechet: Summertime




Sidney Bechet (soprano sax)


The Best Of Sidney Bechet (Blue Note B2-28891)

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Sidney Bechet (soprano sax), Meade Lux Lewis (piano), Teddy Bunn (guitar), Johnny Williams (bass), Sid Catlett (drums).

Composed by George Gershwin & DuBose Heyward


Recorded: New York, June 8, 1939


Rating: 97/100 (learn more)

Sidney Bechet's version of "Summertime" is one of the great recordings in jazz history. Bechet takes the Gershwin song's 16-bar form and simple harmonic structure and treats it like an extension of the 12-bar blues. With Teddy Bunn providing single-string commentary on his guitar behind Bechet's soprano, it is as if Bechet and Bunn were playing the parts of Bessie Smith and Louis Armstrong from a classic blues recording. Bechet solos throughout the 4-minute recording (certainly one of the longest jazz solos recorded to that time), utilizing much of his unique musical vocabulary, including rasps, growls and various speeds of vibrato. Bunn's responses are almost all from the blues vernacular, except in one spot where he quotes the familiar countermelody from the original opera score.

Reviewer: Thomas Cunniffe

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