Sidney Bechet: Petite Fleur - His 48 Finest 1923-1953

It was Duke Ellington who said: “Bechet to me was the very epitome of jazz”. Indeed Sidney Bechet (1897-1959) was one of the supreme talents of jazz history; as a soloist rivalled only by Louis Armstrong, and the creator of a jazz language for his favoured instrument, the soprano saxophone (as well as being an unsurpassed clarinetist). Retrospective’s Petite Fleur (the title of his biggest international hit) offers a unique 2 CD survey of an extraordinary career, from his very first issued record, Wild Cat Blues of 1923, through to highlights of his later years in Paris. In between is a sequence of unsurpassed jazz masterpieces: Really The Blues, Summertime, Indian Summer, Blues In Thirds, Egyptian Fantasy, Blue Horizon and so many more: 48 classics lasting 2 hours and 38 minutes. The tracks also present a gallery of Bechet’s foremost fellow soloists, including Tommy Ladnier, Muggy Spanier, Charlie Shavers, Vic Dickenson, Albert Nicholas, Mezz Mezzrow, Earl Hines, Bunk Johnson and, of course, Louis Armstrong. No jazz collection can be complete without a Sidney Bechet compilation, and this is the one to have.

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Throughout nearly 2 hours and 40 minutes, there are no duds or even ‘ordinary’ tracks: all are outstanding… an essential addition to any jazz collection.

Barry Clare, Just Jazz

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