The famed Sidney Bechet was born 119 years ago

Sidney Bechet, Freddie Moore, and Lloyd Phillips at Jimmy Ryan’s in New York City, circa 1947 (Wikimedia Commons)

Born in New Orleans on May 14, 1897, Sydney Bechet was the first great Jazz clarinetist. He famously performed with many famous musicians including Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker, and Josephine Baker. A master of improvisation, Bechet often played lead parts that were usually reserved for trumpets.

In 2004, Tachyon produced a chapbook of Bechet’s OMAR, a tale of of passion, danger, and betrayal in the Bayou.  Infused with voodoo, love, music, and death, the chronicle is wrought out of a brutal period in American history, passed down by a family born into slavery. It is jazz legend Sidney Bechet’s story.

Sidney Bechet died in Paris on May 14, 1959 at the age of 62.

For more about OMAR, visit the Tachyon page.

Cover by William Reid.