Monday, April 02, 2007

Sidney Bechet - Live at the Brussels Fair, 1958 (Columbia, 1959)

Jazz pioneer and soprano saxophonist Sidney Bechet was near the end of his long life when he took the stage at the 1958 Brussels Worlds Fair. If he was ill at the time, this wonderful concert recording shows no signs of it. He is joined by longtime cohorts Buck Clayton on trumpet, Vic Dickenson on trombone, soon to be festival magnate George Wein on piano, Arvell Shaw on bass and Kansas Fields on drums. The setlist is made up of old-time war horses, but the band attacks them as if their lives depend on it. "(Back Home Again) in Indiana" flies by with some strong collective improvisation, and the band plays some of the most low down blues possible on "Society Blues" with some great slurred trombone form Dickenson. This group knows each other well and interacts very well together mixing solo spots and ensemble playing with great dexterity. The crowd at the World's Fair is very responsive and loves every minute of the action. There is a nice liner note essay on the back of the record which I was lucky enough to pluck from the bargain bin at Jack's for the ourrageous sum of $1.99. Hopefully Sony/Columbia will release a Legacy version of this fine album soon, it's from a lion in winter, but he still knew how to roar.

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