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5196Bechet & Bird

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  • Robert Greenwood
    Jan 29, 2008
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      I don't think we need ever take the jazz writings of the poet Philip
      Larkin at all seriously, especially since, in the introductory essay to
      his much vaunted collection "All What Jazz", he suggests that towards
      the end of his life Charlie Parker's playing showed signs
      of "improving", possibly, in Larkin's view, as a result of Parker
      having met Sidney Bechet at the International Jazz Festival held in
      Paris in May of 1949. Bechet, Larkin says, was always willing to
      instruct the young. Quite why Larkin, who, in asserting the primacy of
      Bechet over Parker was probably trying, mischievously, to make some
      hackles rise, could so confidently assert that Bechet and Bird had not
      met before the Paris festival is not made clear. However, if anyone out
      there chooses to listen to the recording session Bechet made in London
      with the Humphrey Lyttelton Band on 13th November 1949, six months
      after his Parisian encounter with Parker, about two minutes into When
      It's Sleepy Time Down South they will hear Bechet play a very Bird-like
      phrase.
      Robert Greenwood.
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