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Sidney Bechet: Mosaic Select 22

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Sidney Bechet

Sidney Bechet was the original saxophone colossus. The New Orleans pioneer displayed such a larger-than-life presence on soprano saxophone and clarinet at such an early juncture in jazz history that his musical significance is nearly comparable to that of Louis Armstrong.

This three-CD Mosaic Select set centers on a number of sessions from the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s (all on Columbia Records offshoots), some of vital historical importance, others more obscure and marginal. Yet Bechet sparkles on it all, from the deepest blues to the most trivial novelty number. His protean energy, fertile imagination and sheer bonhomie as a player radiate off every track, from his first recording session in 1923 (which kicks off Select) to a quartet date from 1947, not long before Bechet permanently relocated to France.

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