Following the June 28 Rifftides review of the Scenes trio’s Destinations album, its guitarist, John Stowell, sent this comment:
“Your readers might also enjoy the recent duo CD I recorded with Dave Liebman. It was Dave’s idea to do Sidney Bechet tunes. The record, Petite Fleur, is also on Origin.”
Liebman, like virtually all contemporary soprano saxophonists including John Coltrane and Steve Lacy, is a third- or fourth-generation descendant of Bechet. He is generally considered a tenor and soprano saxophonist of the post-John Coltrane school, but Liebman and Stowell find the Bechet spirit in an album with no fewer than three versions of Bechet’s best-known composition, “Petite Fleur,” one of them by Liebman playing piano, another with Stowell’s unaccompanied guitar. In his album notes, Liebman explains that he does not attempt to duplicate what may be the most notable aspect of Bechet’s soprano sound. “It still mystifies me,” Liebman writes, “as to how he employed such a deep and wide vibrato!!” Without imitating the vibrato, he manages to evoke Bechet in ten pieces associated with the great New Orleanian, including “Si Tu Vois Ma Mere” (“If You See My Mother.”)
If you would like to be amused by, or sympathize with, a publicist’s attempt to pronounce Bechet’s name, go here for a few seconds. You may find that a few seconds are enough.
During my years in New Orleans, I learned that the elder generation of the city’s musicians, many of whom knew Bechet, tended to pronounce his last name something like “Bá-shay.” Pronunciation considerations aside, Liebman and Stowell have created a tribute that stands on its own considerable musical merits.