During the last decade of his life, Sidney Bechet spent ever more of his time in Europe, especially in Paris, where he was revered as a hero and cultural icon. This tenth installment of Bechet's complete recordings in chronological order presents three Parisian sessions and a Circle Records date with Bechet as featured soloist with the Bob Wilber Orchestra in New York. Wilber's band mingled seasoned old-timers like Pops Foster and Jimmy Archey with younger talent like Dick Wellstood. The material dished up by this group is delightfully varied. "I'm Through, Goodbye" is a smoothly bubbling strut, "Waste No Tears" a thoughtful reverie, and "Without a Home" a sanguine study in blue. During the sensuous "Love Me With a Feeling," Bechet talks to his woman about passion and demonstrates precisely what he means with the soprano sax. "The Broken Windmill" is a vigorous, slightly frantic stomp propelled by Pops Foster's booming bass. "Box Car Shorty," billed as "A Dixieland Calypso," has an authentic West Indian vocal by the Duke of Iron. Speaking of which -- "Ce Mossieu Qui Parle," the opening track from Bechet's Parisian session of October 14, 1949, sounds like an extension of his "Original Haitian Music" session with Willie "The Lion" Smith from November of 1939, although here Bechet has more room to improvise over the polyrhythmic changes. "Buddy Bolden Story," the famous melody established by Jelly Roll Morton, contains a humorous anecdote told in French by Bechet in conversation with Claude Luter after a bouncy introduction. "Bechet Creole Blues" is deep and dark, as serious as your life. "Anita's Birthday" is actually "Do the Hucklebuck," the pop song based on licks pilfered from Charlie Parker's "Now's the Time." "Les Oignons" -- very popular among the French -- is a jaunty hop dotted with periodic full stops. Bechet's rendition of Ma Rainey's "Ridin' Easy Blues" is blown in huge gusts of soul. "Blues in Paris" is a slow interlude for soprano sax and rhythm. "Panther Dance" is the old "Tiger Rag," served with roasted peppers. The last six selections presented here are particularly exciting, as listeners get to hear Bechet interacting with percussionist Kenny "Klook" Clarke. They exchange ideas during a paired passage on "Klook's Blues" and commandeer "American Rhythm" in its entirety as a saxophone/drum duet. Clarke generates thunderous textures that presage what Art Blakey would sound like ten years later.
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