For generations, Sidney Bechet's legacy of great jazz recordings has been reissued carefully, both casually and haphazardly. One of several chronological options, the 12-volume Masters of Jazz "Complete Edition" takes a most exactingly thorough approach, mapping Bechet's every appearance in the recording studio, week by week and session by session, regardless of who was initially designated as the primary artist. 1923, Vol. 1 in the series covers a four-month period from late July to early November 1923, during which Bechet worked closely with Clarence Williams, a terrifically busy publisher, pianist, talent scout, and instigator of recording dates. For those who know and love the work of cornetist Thomas Morris, this portion of the Sidney Bechet story may serve as a fascinating prologue to the records involving trombonist Joe Nanton and pianist/organist Thomas Waller that were issued under Morris' name during the years 1923-1927. While Morris is well represented, he plays a modestly supportive role on Waller's "Wild Cat Blues" and "Kansas City Man Blues", which fully feature Bechet's scintillating soprano saxophone. The other instrumentals are the "Achin' Hearted Blues," Porter Grainger's "'Tain't Nobody's Bus'ness If I Do," George W. Thomas' "New Orleans Hop Scop Blues," "Oh Daddy!," and "The Shreveport Blues," and James P. Johnson's "Old Fashioned Love." Bechet's earliest recordings also include s16 vocal performances by Sara Martin, Mamie Smith, Eva Taylor, Rosetta Crawford, and Margaret "Queenie" Johnson. First prize for most unlikely title goes to "I've Got the ‘Yes! We Have No Bananas' Blues," a long-shot Tin Pan Alley novelty that was also recorded by vaudeville comedians Eddie Cantor & the Happiness Boys. Its inclusion adds to the uniqueness of this core sample of jazz and blues recorded in New York City during the first months of Sidney Bechet's long and eventful recording career.
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AllMusic Review by arwulf arwulf