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Sidney De Paris: His Story, 1928/44

Here’s another trumpet player to make a mockery of the popular Armstrong-Eldridge-Gillespie chronology. The well-chosen program introduces Sidney De Paris as a soloist following that great trombonist, Jimmy Harrison, in Charlie Johnson’s “The Boy and the Boat.” The date was 1928, the arranger Benny Waters and it is amazing how well the performance still stands up.

Next, De Paris is heard on McKinney’s Cotton Pickers’ “Miss Hannah,” Don Redman’s “Nagasaki,” Jelly Roll Morton’s “Oh, Didn’t He Ramble?” and two titles from Sidney Bechet’s outstanding 1940 session with Sandy Williams and Sidney Catlett. Apart from a 1944 number by the band he jointly led with his brother, the remaining 12 tracks are from a remarkable period (1943-44) when Alfred Lion used De Paris frequently as leader of his own small group or in others led by James P. Johnson and Ed Hall. Lion’s exemplary choice of men on these Blue Note dates-Ben Webster, Vic Dickenson, Sid Catlett and Sidney Bechet were also included-made his subsequent change of direction to bebop as inexplicable as it still remains, although it was undoubtedly attended by more commercial success.

This collection reveals De Paris as an exciting, inventive and tasteful player with an affection for and rare mastery of muted expression. He was especially expert with the now-neglected derby. In his book, Dicky Wells said, “Derby men like Lips Page, Sidney De Paris and Harry Edison could always make your insides dance.” The derby may look old-fashioned today, but it still gives a crisp, rhythmically appealing quality to both soloists and trumpet sections on records. But open or muted, De Paris shines brightly all through this fine collection.

Originally Published