"There are not many perfect things in jazz, but Sidney Bechet playing the blues could be one of them." So said poet Philip Larkin of the legendary New Orleans musician who died in 1959.
Bechet is about to be celebrated in England, starting with a concert on Sunday to mark the English edition of a memoir by the jazz man's son.
Books of Africa is launching Daniel-Sidney Bechet's book, Sidney Bechet: My Father on Sunday May 4 at the Hippodrome, Leicester Square, followed by a concert of Bechet’s music performed by Daniel and accompanied by a British quartet presented by Jazzmo’thology. The panel discussing the book includes BBC broadcaster Alyn Shipton, writer Howard Rye and Gary Crosby, Chairman of Dune Records.
Clarinetist and saxophonist Bechet, who is the musical hero of film directorWoody Allen (he named Bechet as the person he would most like to have had dinner with), lived in France for many years and worked in England with Will Marion Cook’s band the Southern Syncopators.
There are also firm plans to commemorate Bechet with a plaque in central London. Camden Council have given permission for the plaque to be erected at 27 Conway Street. Bechet, who was born in 1897, lived there in 1922 (when it was called Southampton Street), during which time he was performing at the Rector’s Club in Tottenham Court Road. The plaque has been applied for by the Nubian Jak Community Trust.
As Larkin wrote in his 1954 poem For Sidney Bechet:
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Thanks so much for your help in getting the word out about Tuesday’s presentation with Nate Chinen and Steve Smith. We had 115 attendees, which is the most ever! We ended up moving the event to the sanctuary. They did a great job.