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The Essential Collection Double CD

4.7 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (12 Oct. 2009)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Double CD
  • Label: Avid - West End
  • ASIN: B002RL1VW6
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 16,020 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
  • Sample this album Artist - Artist (Sample)
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Product Description

The music on this superbly re-mastered double CD in our Essential Collection series pays tribute to a great musician and covers a broad aspect of his glittering career. Sidney Bechet was born in the home of jazz, New Orleans in 1897 and had already started to teach himself clarinet at the tender age of six! By seventeen he had already played with such greats as Freddie Keppard, Jack Carey and Buddy Petit and soon went on to play with Clarence Williams, Louis Wade, King Oliver, Tony Jackson and Benny Peyton. His legendary musical virtuosity not only led him to release the clarinet from its more traditional role but also effectively introduce the rarely heard soprano saxophone to jazz instrumentation. His recordings include wonderful music for RCA Victor and Mezz Mezzrow s King Jazz label as well as those that helped to establish the legendary Blue Note label. Our double CD is full of brilliant and emotional playing made up mainly of various complete sessions most notably all the titles recorded by the Bechet - Spanier Big Four. Primarily known for his instrumental greatness, Bechet was also a prolific composer of such titles as Petite Fleur and Dans Les Rues. He also wrote some more serious longer works such as La Nuit Est Une Sorciere and La Connait Du Delta. He tried his hand at acting and was the author of a fascinating biography. He died in May 1959 at the relatively young age of 62 with 3,000 mourners attending his funeral.

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
This is a reissue of an earlier 2-CD set from Avid, which was titled "Shake 'Em Up" and curiously at time of writing seems to be still available, albeit at a higher price. It spans 1938 to 1947, runs for just over two and a half hours, and was highly praised at the time by Dave Gelly, The Observer's jazz critic. It comprises the four Noble Sissle sides from February 1938, Bechet's November 1938 session, the three 1939 Blue Note sides (two Port of Harlem and one by the Quintet), two trio sides accompanying Josh White,and all the 1940 Bechet-Spanier Big Four recordings, including the two alternate takes.

All of which only just gets us to the second CD! Bechet recorded two numbers as a one-man band, playing clarinet, soprano sax, tenor sax, piano and, on "The Sheik of Araby", bass and drums also. No mean technical accomplishment in the days of direct to wax recording. Three 1943 sides by his New Orleans Feetwarmers lead into six numbers with Art Hodes' Blue Note Jazzmen, and three with the Joe Sullivan Jazz Quartet, all from 1945. In July 1947 Bechet recorded with Bob Wilbur's Wildcats, and later that month with his own quartet.

These are classic recordings by a man who was the master of his instruments, and who with his unique sound could more than hold his own in any company. I suspect the earlier release is more fully annotated but at this price to complain would be to look a gift horse in the mouth.
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By Sentinel TOP 500 REVIEWER on 29 Nov. 2010
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is a mouth-wateringly good selection of this maestro's work across his most creative period between 1938-47. Given the age of the recordings, the re-mastering work is impressive, and much of the material sounds clean and fresh. The highlight is almost certainly all the Bechet-Spanier material (some 8 pieces, plus 2 alternate takes): this is infectious, joyful, wonderfully soaring stuff. Although it would be a great bargain for this alone, this double cd features no less than 45 tracks, giving a broad spread of Bechet's development and direction, and over 150 minutes in which to indulge yourself. A brilliant bargain!
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Some pieces of music come from so deep inside and are so perfectly performed that you can hear them again and again without ever getting tired. It seems that they touch something eternal and so time has no power to diminish them or turn them into something plain and ordinary.

I suspect that this is one of those albums. Bechet was born in New Orleans and his music is very much in the style of that city. He can play the blues with great feeling and can just as convincingly set your foot tapping with one of his upbeat numbers. His version of Summertime is surely a masterpiece.

If you already know Bechet you don't need to be told any of this but if you haven't listened to him then try this album and expect to be delighted.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
COVERING SIDNEY BECHETS RECORDINGS FROM 1938 TO 1947 THIS IS A GREAT WIDE RANGING
SELECTION .I LOVE THE TWO JOSH WHITE TRACKS FEATURING SIDNEY ON CLARINET, AND THE
ENTIRE BECHET/SPANIER BIG FOUR SIDES THE INTERPLAY BETWEEN BOTH BECHET AND MUGGSY
SPANIER IS BREATHTAKING. THE ONLY SLIGHT QUIBBLE I HAVE IS THE LACK OF PERSONEL
DETAILS. YOU GET THE RECORDING DATES ,BUT NO LINEUP INFO. EVEN SO THIS IS STILL A GREAT BUY AND ANOTHER TRIUMPH IN AVIDS LONG LIST OF BRILLIANT REISSUES
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Avid originally issued this as "Shake 'Em Up," but it seems to be repackaged as "The Essential Collection," bearing the same content and sequence but with a presumably more marketable title and cover. This is a well-chosen compilation that covers the fertile years of 1938-1947, and it was singled out by the Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings as part of its 'Core Collection' of jazz music.

To my knowledge it's the first compact disc collection to include all eight sides made by Sidney Bechet and Muggsy Spanier's incredible group, The Big Four, so I can't really fault the selection - much of this music really is essential to any serious jazz listener. However, where it stumbles is sound quality. Everything is heavily processed with noise reduction, which means not only is the surface noise cleaned out, but some of the life has gone out of the recordings too. I wish I could recommend a better alternative - the best one that comes to mind is Sony's two hour "The Essential Sidney Bechet," which is mastered well from good sources, but unfortunately it's only available as a download or through streaming services. Had Avid eased off on the noise reduction altogether, I would've given this collection a solid five-star rating.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is a 2-CD set that is cheap but contains a good selection of recordings made by Sidney Bechet from his early work with Noible Sissle onwards. The whole of the famous Bechet-Spanier sessions are included.
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Format: MP3 Download Verified Purchase
If you like Bechet, then this is a steal. Fantastic musician. Shows him as a real working jazz man, both as part of other bands, and with his own lineups. Good sound engineering throughout.
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This album reminds me of a dear friend who is no longer with us - who introduced me to the likes of Bechet and other greats - we used to eat at "melange" in convent garden (no longer there) with bottles of 12yr old cuban rum (im only 48 but at the time i was just 28) an education in rum consumption!! and fantastic jazz - this is a classic - thank you
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