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5197Re: Bechet & Bird

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  • spacelights
    Jan 29, 2008
      While I'd agree that we shouldn't necessarily take Larkin's critical
      writings seriously (I think they're often meant to be humorous),
      "ever" and "at all" seem a bit extreme... In its curmudgeonly way,
      the 'All What Jazz' essay contains many insights: a strange mix of
      opinions (he prefaces the remark about Parker improving with "I
      fancy..."), observations, feelings, and philosophizing on the nature
      of art and expression.

      Bechet and Parker's originality and importance are comparable, yet
      disparity between the eras which produced them may make it difficult
      to assess their musical relationship... In any case, here's a
      striking first hand estimation of Bechet:

      "The greatest of all the originators... I consider Bechet the
      foundation. It was very, very difficult to find anyone who could keep
      up with him."

      "Bechet was never a very outgoing man, yet he took Johnny Hodges under
      his arm and taught him everything."

      - Duke Ellington

      --- In RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com, "Robert Greenwood"
      <robertgreenwood_54uk@...> wrote:
      > 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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