Sidney Bechet: Wild Man Blues
Wild Man Blues
Sidney Bechet (clarinet)
Really The Blues (Living Era)
Sandy Williams (trombone), Cliff Jackson (piano), Bernard Addison (guitar), Wellman Braud (bass), Sidney Catlett (drums).
Composed by Louis Armstrong & Jelly Roll Morton.
Recorded: New York, June 4, 1940
Rating: 95/100 (learn more)
This track has the feeling of an updated, matured, yet slightly exotic version of a classic New Orleans band performance. It presents a beautifully developed version of the original Crescent City polyphonic ensemble playing, with each key player contributing his own lines, stirring up a fine gumbo of moving jazz. Both the tune and the nature of its playing create a deep bluesy mood.
It opens with two simple Sidney Bechet phrases giving a taste of things to come, followed by the band's strong, march-like statement of the theme taken at a stately tempo, after which trumpeter Sidney de Paris adds a couple of his own clarion phrases. Next Bechet and de Paris (a favorite of Bechet) trade lead lines in frequent breaks, with de Paris offering excellent, lyrical trumpet work, and Bechet responding with ascending, ringing high-note playing alternating with creative melodic variations and a striking variety of clarinet tones, from the richest woody notes to those wailing highs (sounding like his soprano sax) to swoops down through the scale, and so on. Nobody could get the range of clarinet sounds and make such creative and expressive use of them, with just the right impact, as Sidney Bechet. Overall, this recording has excellent structural and thematic coherence, with passion and playing at a high level. Hearing it, we experience blues as fine art without losing the deep, soulful feel.
Reviewer: Dean Alger