Sidney Bechet and his Influence on Jazz Music

Sidney Joseph Bechet is recognized today as one of the greatest influences on jazz music, through saxophone, clarinet and composition of music. Born on 14th May, 1897 in New Orleans, this Creole artist encouraged the growth of his musical intelligence by playing the clarinet at the age of six. Although he worked with well-known George Banquet and Lorenzo Tio, Jr. for a fleeting moment, Bechet taught himself most of his what he knew musically. 

Along with famous trumpeter Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet distinguished between ragtime and jazz with the advancement of this music that had a momentum of accents and attacks on a fixed beat, called swing. Swing music is played by Big Bands which caused Swing music to have a greater emphasis on written-out composition and arrangements. During this era of music, many made great efforts to understand harmony, improve music-reading skills and ensemble skills.

Band leaders used assortments of techniques to keep the songs interesting such as solos and riffs. In solos, usually one person would improvise with an instrument over a simple harmonic beat and riffs consisted of the repetition of a short and rhythmic pattern.

By the young age of 20, Sidney Bechet had already moved to Chicago and performed with other amazing jazz artists such as Joseph Oliver (said to be the King of jazz), Fredie Keppard and Bunk Johnson. In 1919, Bechet was invited to a European tour with the Southern Syncopated Orchestra by the conductor and composer Will Marion Cook. It was during that trip to Europe that Bechet purchased his first soprano saxophone. Prior to that he had only played the clarinet. 

Bechet first recorded in 1923, and in 1924 he was featured with Louis Armstrong and Blue Five. These recordings are still deemed as the most exceptional early jazz pieces. Sidney Bechet has a great impact on the Ellington styles of jazz as he worked with Duke Ellington himself in 1924. He recorded largely in 1939 and moved permanently to Europe in 1949. After becoming a national hero, Bechet died in Paris on his sixtieth birthday (1959).

Pieces by Sidney Bechet

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