Fifty years after hearing Sidney Bechet (1897-1959) in 1923, Duke Ellington recalled, "I have never forgotten the power and imagination with which he played." The first great jazz soloist, Bechet was a genius of the clarinet and the notoriously difficult soprano saxophone. In a career that spanned five decades and two continents he worked with Bunk Johnson, King Oliver, Duke Ellington, Josephine Baker, Jelly Roll Morton, and Louis Armstrong. He was a giant in early New Orleans jazz and a pioneer of improvisation whose contribution to the music, from the traditional to the avant-garde, has been a vital and lasting one. This biography reveals with insight and precision the man and his music, and illuminates the many events obscured by Bechet's own highly readable but factually suspect autobiography, Treat It Gentle.
A professional trumpeter and jazz writer, John Chilton is the author of Billie's Blues, Who's Who of Jazz, and with Max Jones, Louis: The Louis Armstrong Story.
* Creole Ancestry * The New Orleans Truant * Jazz Prodigy * Restless * Transatlantic Triumphs * Deportation Blues * The Wizard on Wax * Duel of the Giants * Mayhem in Paris * Gigging and Sewing * Big-band Days * Summertime * The Jazz Revival * One-man Band * Farewell to Louisiana * Bunk and Boston * King Jazz * Absent Enemy * Chicago Showdown * European Acclaim * Beating the Ban * Monsieur Bechet * Stardom in France * The Birth of a Ballet * The Final Bows * Coda