Sidney Bechet

Sidney Bechet

American jazz musician
One of the founding fathers of New Orleans jazz and a pioneering soloist on clarinet and soprano sax.
BornMay 14, 1897
HometownNew Orleans, Louisiana, United States
SpouseElisabeth Ziegler (m 1951 - 1959) , Marie-Louise Crawford (m 1934 - 1942) , Norma Hale (m 1918 - 1929)

Top Stories

Charlie 'Bird' Parker at 100: read Philip Larkin's reviews of his 'wild, bubbling' jazz

  • Last weekend marked the 100th anniversary of Charlie "Bird" Parker's birth. Arguably the most influential jazz musician of his age, Parker's reputation grew in the years following his tragically early death in 1955, as posthumous releases of his music were championed by reviewers – including the poet Philip Larkin, for was for many years The Telegraph's jazz critic. "The four-word history of jazz is: 'Louis Armstrong: Charlie Parker'," Larkin wrote in The Telegraph in 1963. "Armstrong who integrated and enhanced a great racial tradition, Parker the prism through which it broke up into an infinity of subtler musical components." Though Larkin's own tastes leant towards more traditional players, he admired Parker's radical innovations. The comparisons he draws between "Bird" and less experimental musicians – Sidney Bechet, Louis Armstrong – show each of them in a new light, with the poet's usual concision and sharp turns of phrase. Here, republished from the Telegraph archives, are some of the highlights from Larkin's reviews: Bird & Bechet Not long ago, a well-known writer tried to get the word "great" banned from critical vocabulary, on the grounds that it cannot constitute a meaningful advance on "good". A better reason, in jazz at any rate, would be that it has been too devalued on record sleeves to constitute a meaningful advance on anything. But if we call for instance, Kaminsky, Carter and Teddy Wilson good (and we can hardly do less), what word are we to use to show recognition of that extra inimitable power that practice cannot give? I ask because records have recently appeared by two players with nothing in common except that they manifestly stood head and shoulders above their contemporaries: Sidney Bechet and Charlie Parker...

People Also Viewed