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Bechet & Bird

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  • Robert Greenwood
    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
    Message 1 of 4 , 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.
    • spacelights
      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
      Message 2 of 4 , Jan 29, 2008
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        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.
        >
      • Nick Dellow
        Not only did Parker meet Bechet at the International Jazz Festival held in Paris but they also jammed together on the aptly named Farewell Blues finale of
        Message 3 of 4 , Jan 29, 2008
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          Not only did Parker meet Bechet at the International Jazz Festival held in
          Paris but they also jammed together on the aptly named "Farewell Blues"
          finale of May 15th 1949. Miles Davis and Don Byas were also present - what a
          line up! The results are interesting if rather messy in the usual jam
          session way; both Bechet and Parker solo of course.

          I also have an acetate recording from the festival in which Parker is
          interviewed and talks about Bechet. He doesn't say anything earth
          shattering, but states that there is room for both traditional and bop in
          the jazz world. Pity the fans didn't agree!

          There is a nice photo of Bechet and Parker together on the same bus, taken
          at this time.

          Nick


          On 29/01/2008, 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.
          >
          >
          >


          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Robert Greenwood
          ... held in ... Blues ... Larkin is very slippery. He praises modern recordings and can t, then, be accused of narrow-mindedness, but, accused of
          Message 4 of 4 , Jan 30, 2008
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            --- In RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com, "Nick Dellow" <nick.dellow@...>
            wrote:
            >
            > Not only did Parker meet Bechet at the International Jazz Festival
            held in
            > Paris but they also jammed together on the aptly named "Farewell
            Blues"
            > finale of May 15th 1949.

            Larkin is very slippery. He praises "modern" recordings and can't,
            then, be accused of narrow-mindedness, but, accused of inconsistency,
            he claims he didn't mean any of it.
            John Chilton, whose biography of Bechet Larkin couldn't, of course,
            have read, talks about how Bechet and Bird had first met (and
            socialised) in New York when Bechet was playing at Jimmy Ryan's.
            Robert Greenwood.
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