THE ICON: Sidney Bechet
THE LEGACY: Surrounded by music as a Creole-born child of New Orleans, the kid was handed a clarinet by his big brother at an early age. It changed his life, as music quickly became an all-consuming passion for the talented young Sidney Bechet. It also changed music, as he set about leaving his singular imprint on jazz even before he was an adult. Eventually adding the baritone sax to his arsenal, the fiery Bechet would become known for his thrillingly unorthodox playing style — highlighted by a wavering vibrato, one of his signatures — and astounding volume. It made him a star in Europe, and it has made him a legend all these years later, earning him a spot alongside the likes of Buddy Bolden, Jelly Roll Morton and Louis Armstrong as one of New Orleans’ most important and influential early jazz pioneers.
THE ARTIST: Queen Hope Parker, WhereYart.net
THE INSPIRATION: “Bechet to me was the very epitome of jazz. … Everything he played in his whole life was completely original. I honestly think he was the most unique man to ever be in this music.” — Duke Ellington, on Sidney Bechet