Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Bechet Legacy, Bob Wilber, Glenn Zottola, Birch Hall Concerts Live, 1981

"If you've plenty of time and you feel real needy, it's time to take a listen to Speedy...". So goes the opening jingle from the hilarious send-off of teen top forty radio of the late '50s, Arbogast and Ross's "Chaos," a two-sided, two-part single that for obvious reasons (when you hear it) never got radio air play and faded quickly. Speedy was the DJ of the gag, Speedy Clip. Nowadays time and need can be satisfied in so many ways that AM radio is barely a viable option for anybody, certainly not my readers, I would think. In my usual way I would suggest that you (ahem) BUY some music, feed the artists and a couple of their friends, and help good music continue on for our future generations. This is a handy way to keep yourself occupied and help keep our world filled with sounds. I recommend it! (But hey I am not putting down what good radio there is out there; listen to that too and keep it alive also ....)

One excellent CD that I throw out to you today as a suggestion is the new 2-CD set by the Bechet Legacy, covering the band in great form live in Lancaster, England, 1981. Fortunately the tapes were rolling both evenings and we hear, in excellent sound, Birch Hall Concerts Live (Classic Jazz CD-4, 2-CD set). It features in full-blown glory the soprano and clarinet of Bob Wilber and the Armstrongian-tinged, jazz-hot-school trumpet of Glenn Zottola along with a very sympathetic and stylistically proper combo.

This of course is old-school jazz made alive again in the present. The prominent attraction is Wilber, who is on a roll. As Sidney Bechet's most faithful acolyte he learned the style of the master to a "t", then went on to speak eloquently and masterfully his own soliloquies of Bechetistic profundity. Don't fool yourself, what he did (and does) is no mean technical feat, but he makes it swing with the joy and conviction of the best of jazzmen, and that's what especially counts. Time goes by and I think we appreciate the rare excellence of this artist more and more. At least I do.

Glenn Zottola and band are right there with him. They run through classic Bechet repertoire, like "Summertime" and "Egyptian Fantasy, " and other things Bechet didn't do that often that I know of, like Duke's "The Mooche" and "I Got it Bad and That Ain't Good." Whatever the Legacy did on those evenings, they put their all into it.

It's primo Bob Wilber, guarantee to stir your soul if you have one. So forget about Speedy Clip and check out this wonderful concert set!

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