Sidney Bechet – The Essential Sidney Bechet – Album Review

The Essential Sidney Bichet album image playing clarinet

Sidney Bechet – The Essential Sidney Bechet – Album Review

Review by Nick Ellman, of Naughty Professor

Sidney Bechet is a pioneer of the clarinet and of jazz itself. He was contemporaries with Louis Armstrong in New Orleans and just as much of an innovator on his instrument. Originally a clarinet player, Bechet found the soprano saxophone while touring in London and discovered a new sound with more power behind it. So much of the recorded material we have from Sidney Bechet is on soprano saxophone. But since we’re here to talk about clarinet, we won’t hold that against him.

I was hesitant to include a compilation album in my top ten list but it’s really more about the player than anything. This album covers a wide range of his career and definitely has some clarinet highlights sprinkled in. Whichever horn we hear him on, Sidney Bechet plays more personality in one note than most musicians could hope to convey in a lifetime. A true innovator on the clarinet, Bechet demonstrates his expressive way of playing all over this album with growls, bends and scoops. He is also a master of arpeggios with multiple notes flying out of his horn at faster tempos. 

On “Sweetie Dear,” Bechet is nothing short of amazing on clarinet. Immediately following the melody, he kicks off the next section with a few bars of acapella clarinet. It’s a serious flex of chops with his command of the instrument, melody and harmony.  Throughout the album you can hear Bechet’s signature wide vibrato and boisterous wails. 

“Characteristic Blues” is a stand out track to me. Right at the top of song, the trill of Sidney Bechet is unapologetic and unforgettable. My favorite part of the song is in the middle of his solo. The band kicks into double time and Bechet plays a riff with a lively bounce that won’t let me not move my body. It only happens for a moment but it’s such a joyful swing that it sticks with me long after I hear it each time. Sidney Bechet is a national treasure and will forever be remembered as one of the greatest of all time.



Side One:

  1. Wild Cat Blues
  2. Texas Moaner Blues
  3. Mandy, Make Up Your Mind
  4. I’m A Little Blackbird
  5. Shag
  6. Sweetie Dear
  7. I Want You Tonight
  8. Lay Your Racket
  9. I’ve Found A New Baby
  10. Maple Leaf Rag
  11. Characteristic Blues
  12. Dear Old Southland
  13. Okey-Doke
  14. What A Dream
  15. Hold Tight (Want Some Sea Food, Mama)
  16. Sidney’s Blues
  17. Jungle Drums
  18. Chant In The Night
  19. Indian Summer
  20. Egyptian Fantasy
  21. Preaching’ Blues
  22. Blues in Thirds
  23. Coal Black Shine
  24. Shake It and Break It
  25. Nobody Knows The Way I Feel Dis Mornin’

Side Two:

  1. Blues For You, Johnny
  2. Ain’t Misbehavin’
  3. Baby, Won’t You Please Come Home?
  4. Slippin’ and Slidin’
  5. The Sheik of Araby
  6. I Know That You Know
  7. When It’s Sleepy Time Down South
  8. I Ain’t Gonna Give Nobody None O’ This Jelly Roll
  9. Limehouse Blues
  10. Georgia Cabin
  11. Strange Fruit
  12. Blues in the Air
  13. Swing Parade
  14. Laura
  15. I Had It, But It’s All Gone Now
  16. Polka Dot Stomp
  17. Kansas City Man Blues
  18. Buddy Bolden Stomp
  19. My Woman’s Blues
  20. The Song Of Songs
  21. Just One Of Those Things
  22. Love For Sale
  23. Shake ‘Em Up


Music Minds Staff
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