Really the Blues (2018)

Mezzrow, Bechet

Sidney Bechet

From the time that Mezz Mezzrow first heard Sidney Bechet playing with the Original New Orleans Creole Jazz Band in Chicago in 1918, he nursed a burning ambition to record with him, inspired by the duets Bechet played with the band’s clarinettist leader, Lawrence Dewey. It took Mezzrow 20 years to realise that ambition, finally achieving his goal when French critic Hugues Panassie? made his recording safari to New York in November 1938.
The 12 tracks on this album are of later vintage, a selection from the sides that Mezzrow made in the mid-forties when he was president of the King Jazz record company.

The Mezzrow-Bechet partnership was a conspicuously one-sided match because Mezzrow had nothing like Bechet’s stature as a musician. But he was undoubtedly a good catalyst for Bechet, for whom he had a boundless admiration, and he made no secret of his inability to measure up to Bechet’s almost overpowering virtuosity.

 

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Sidney Bechet

There has never been a more instinctive, natural musician than Sidney Bechet, the great Creole jazzman from New Orleans who was to the soprano saxophone what Louis Armstrong was to the cornet and trumpet and Coleman Hawkins was to the tenor saxophone. Born in New Orleans – probably sometime in 1897 – Bechet was captivated at an early age by the sound of the clarinet which his brother, Leonard, played.  Charles E. Smith relates in his book Jazzmen, published in 1939, that when Bechet came home from school, he would pick up his brother’s clarinet and blow it.  He practiced thus, unknown to his brother, and made so much progress that his mother got Leonard to listen to him one day.  Sidney played one piece – and when he’d finished Leonard told him he could keep the clarinet.

The Bechet brothers played together in a band called Silver Bell and by the time he was 18, Bechet was one of the finest musicians in New Orleans, having played with Jack Carey and the New Orleans Eagle Band.  In 1916 he worked with King Oliver and, like Oliver, migrated to Chicago when the Storyville red light district of New Orleans – where many jazz musicians worked – was closed down. Bechet played with Freddie Keppard, among others in Chicago, and then, in 1919, moved to New York where he joined Will Marion Cook’s Southern Syncopated Orchestra and went with the band on a tour of Europe.  Bechet stayed on after the Cook band broke, spent some time in London and played in the Bennie Peyton band in Paris.  Thereafter he spent much of his time in Europe, finally settling permanently in Paris in 1951.

It was while he was in London that Bechet acquired his first straight soprano saxophone – the instrument on which he was to become a jazz legend.  He made his first recordings in 1923, with the Clarence Williams Blue Five, and subsequently worked with Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Tommy Ladnier (whom he first met in Moscow while on a tour of Europe in 1925) and Noble Sissie, with whom he had a long association.

Perhaps because of spending so much time outside the United States, Bechet never received the recognition there that was due to him during his lifetime.  But in France he triumphed.  He became a national hero, his recordings of Petite Fleur and Les Oignons were tremendous hits and a statue in his honour was erected in Juan-les-Pins.  He died of cancer in Paris on May 14th, 1959.

Bechet was hailed as “an artist of genius” by the Swiss composer and conductore Ernest Ansermet.  He played with matchless passion and commitment and, in the words of Joachim Berendt “a majestic expressiveness”.  He simply overflowed with melodic inspiration and had vast reserves of musical energy. As Jelly Roll Morton once said, “He plays more music than you can put on paper”.

photo: from the album 'Really the Blues'

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Really the Blues (2018)

Mezzrow, Bechet

Sidney Bechet

Digital Converters: Hapi
Editing Software: Pyramix
Mastering Engineer:

2xHD is a record label which uses its proprietary system to pro- cess music masters originally recorded in analog or DSD or other format, to DSD in order to produce a unique listening experience.
The process uses a selection from a pool of high-end audiophile components and connectors. In some cases even using battery power, so as to benefit from the cleanest power source possible. This variable equipment combination custom tailored to each project, creates the most accurate reproduction of the original recording, unveiling informaton previously masked by the use of EQ, transformers, patch bays, extended cable length etc. The selection of components is critical, as many A/D and D/A converters are unable to pierce through these filters that create a ceiling effect to the sound. The 2xHD system preserves the dynamics of the original master and provides an open feeling to the sound.

2xHD was created by producer/studio owner Andre Perry and audiophile sound engineer Rene Laflamme, two dedicated music lovers determined to experience only the warmth and depth of the music without hearing the equipment.

2xHD Mastering by: Rene Laflamme 2xHD Executive Producer: Andre Perry

Recording location: New York - 1945, Chicago - 1947
Recording Software: Merging

This album was recorded to Analog tape. It was then transferred to the DSD bit rate indicated above.

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2XHDST1107: Really the Blues
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Tracks.
1.
Out of the Gallion
Bechet
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2.
Blues of the Roaring Twenties
Mezzrow
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3.
Tommy's Blues
Mezzrow
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4.
Minor Swoon
Mezzrow
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5.
Jelly Roll
Mezzrow
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6.
Groovin' the Minor
Mezzrow
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7.
Really the Blues: No. 1.
Mezzrow
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Really the Blues: No. 2.
Mezzrow
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Funky Butt
Mezzrow
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Perdido Street Stomp
Mezzrow
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11.
Where Am I?
Mezzrow
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12.
I'm Speaking My Mind
Mezzrow
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