This CD compilation includes two separate sessions by the legendary soprano saxophonist Sidney Bechet and a third date by clarinetist Claude Luter. Bechet's hearty vibrato dominates the four octet tracks, though his French band provides more than adequate support for him. Trumpeter Gerard Bayol and trombonist Benny Vasseur get in their licks in the laid back "On the Sunny Side of the Street." The quartet session is more interesting, just for the opportunity to hear drummer Kenny Clarke and bassist Pierre Michelot outside their normal bop recordings; the pianist is Eddie Bernard (who was also present on the octet recordings). Again, all eight songs are brief (under three and a-half minutes each) with the primary focus on the leader. The slightly more modern underlying rhythm comes through especially in "It Had to be You," which also includes a brief solo by Bernard and a short series of drum breaks to showcase Clarke's brushwork. Aside from the standard fare, Bechet's one original is the mournful blues "Ooh! Boogie!" The six song set by Claude Luter sounds as if it is in a bit of a time warp, like it was recorded in 1930 instead of 1948. It is unfair to expect Luter and his band to be playing at the level of an esteemed veteran like Bechet, but it is difficult to resist the comparison when the two musicians are placed side by side on a compilation. The musicians clearly gave their all on this set, though none of the six tracks come close to comparing with recordings by American jazz musicians. It's doubtful that anyone will purchase this CD in Verve's Jazz in Paris reissue series other than to hear the Bechet material.
AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden