Sidney Bechet

Back to Memphis

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While in France during the 1950s, soprano saxophonist Sidney Bechet recorded many exciting sessions. In most cases he was the dominant soloist, since he was joined by local groups full of younger players. But for this LP, Bechet meets up with a band of American all-stars. Pianist Sammy Price, trumpeter Emmett Berry, trombonist George Stevenson (who is in particularly good form), clarinetist Herbert Hall, bassist Pops Foster, and drummer Freddie Moore all collaborate with Bechet in some very hot performances. Highlights include "St. Louis Blues" and uptempo "Darktown Strutters' Ball," a charming and hard-swinging "Yes We Have No Bananas Today," and "Dinah." Although Bechet is clearly the leader, Berry (who rarely played Dixieland), Stevenson, and Hall (along with the driving rhythm section) make strong contributions to the overheated ensembles. By the way, the song listed as "Back Home" is actually the standard "One Sweet Letter from You."