The fiery genius who was ‘the very epitome of jazz’

The fiery genius who was ‘the very epitome of jazz’

The Occasions-Picayune is marking the tricentennial of New Orleans with its ongoing 300 for 300 challenge, operating via 2018 and highlighting 300 individuals who have made New Orleans New Orleans, that includes authentic art work commissioned by | The Occasions-Picayune with The place Y’Artwork gallery. At present: jazz pioneer Sidney Bechet.

The icon: Sidney Bechet.

The legacy: Surrounded by music as a Creole-born baby of New Orleans, the child was handed a clarinet by his large brother at an early age. It modified his life, as music rapidly grew to become an all-consuming ardour for the gifted younger Sidney Bechet. It additionally modified music, as he set about leaving his singular imprint on jazz even earlier than he was an grownup. Finally including the baritone sax to his arsenal, the fiery Bechet would grow to be recognized for his thrillingly unorthodox taking part in model — highlighted by a wavering vibrato, one among his signatures — and astounding quantity. It made him a star in Europe, and it has made him a legend all these years later, incomes him a spot alongside the likes of Buddy Bolden, Jelly Roll Morton and Louis Armstrong as one among New Orleans’ most vital and influential early jazz pioneers.

The artist: Queen Hope Parker.

The quote: “Bechet to me was the very epitome of jazz. … All the pieces he performed in his complete life was fully authentic. I actually suppose he was essentially the most distinctive man to ever be on this music.” –– Duke Ellington, on Sidney Bechet

Discover extra of Queen Hope Parker’s work on-line at WhereYart.internet and in individual on the The place Y’Artwork gallery, 1901 Royal St.


  • Sidney Bechet was born Might 14, 1897, in New Orleans.
  • He grew up admiring his older brother, a musician named Leonard, who gave the younger Sidney his first clarinet.
  • That clarinet grew to become Bechet’s ardour. His pure expertise grew to become evident early. By the point he was 13, he was sitting in with a number of the metropolis’s hottest bands and as a young person is alleged to have carried out within the famed Storyville vice district — a lot to the chagrin of his household, which most well-liked he do “trustworthy” work.
  • In 1917, he left New Orleans for Chicago and New York, finally catching on with Will Marion Prepare dinner’s band, which Bechet accompanied on what could be his first tour of Europe.
  • It was on that journey, within the 1920s, that he grew to become enamored with the soprano saxophone — greater in tone that a regular sax — and is taken into account the primary jazz musician to totally embrace it.
  • He usually performed with a wavering tone — generally known as a vibrato in music parlance — which quickly grew to become one among his musical signatures.
  • He by no means realized to learn or write music as a result of he did not need it to intrude along with his improvisational taking part in model.
  • Bechet had a darker, even violent, aspect. In a single case, he was despatched to jail after he injured three bystanders throughout a gun duel. In one other, he was reportedly jailed after which deported from London after being convicted of assaulting a girl there.
  • Among the many jazz luminaries he performed with had been Louis Armstrong, King Oliver and Duke Ellington.
  • Whereas his success at residence was extra average, they cherished him in Europe, and notably in France, the place he finally made his residence.
  • He died close to Paris on Might 14, 1959 — his 62nd birthday.

Supply: The Occasions-Picayune archives; NPR; Nationwide Park Service

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