Format: NTSC Region 1
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Release Date: 2007
Label: Kultur Video
Sidney Bechet’s life was like his playing, passionate, robust and competitive. The first jazz soprano saxophonist, Bechet’s reputation was such that, when he died in 1959, three thousand mourners attended his funeral in Juan-les-Pins. He composed and recorded many classic songs with artists including Clarence Williams, Bessie Smith, Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington and can be credited, among the many young turks of New Orleans, with inventing jazz. This programme takes us on a journey from Bechet’s birthplace near Storyville, New Orleans, to New York, London and Paris where he found stardom.
Sidney Bechet: Treat It Gentle (Kultur), a joint venture by the BBC and Netherlands Television, was produced in 1997 to celebrate the centenary of the legendary saxophonist’s birth. This 57-minute film tells the musician s life story from Bechet’s perspective, with Bill Fredericks acting as the narrator. The first half follows him from his birthplace in New Orleans to his move to Europe. Director Alan Lewens blends rare archival performance footage with new scenes filmed at historic locations. The interviews include musicians Wynton Marsalis and Bob Wilber (who tells a very funny story about Tallulah Bankhead) as well as Bechet’s son. There’s a very relaxed interview with Woody Allen, who reveals that he took up playing the clarinet due to Bechet’s recordings. When Bechet died at age 62 in 1959, 3,000 mourners showed up to pay their respects. Less known than he should be today, this well-done film is a nice tribute to the New Orleans legend. –Steve Ramm, In the Groove