It's history time. Before Miles Davis, before Charlie Parker, before Louis Armstrong...there was Sidney Bechet.
Bechet and King Oliver were titans, man. They got overshadowed by Armstrong, but in the annals of great jazz soloists, these two might have been the cream of the pre-Pops crowd. They were improv before jazz became improv. Every soloist owes a debt to them.
Bechet, in particular, has really become more important to me as I've gotten older. Like everyone else, I pretty much listened to Miles Davis and said "OK, that's nice, I'll have a few of those albums and be done with it." Later, I backtracked to Armstrong and Bix. But then I found Bechet and it's been crushing me ever since. That vibrato is so wide, but so controlled, and the phrasing is all that you could want out of jazz - blue, dazzling, sweet, confident, as smooth as it is powerful. Bechet is everything I wish I was as a musician, but never will be.
He was also a badass. He was put in jail in Paris for almost a year. Why? He wounded a passerby in a gun duel. Why was he trying to shoot someone in broad daylight on a public street? The bandleader told him he was playing a wrong chord. Bechet took it outside, because he "never plays the wrong chord."
Anyone here interested in building a Spotify playlist? You don't need anything but a free account. Basically, just make a Spotify account if you don't have one already, click on the link below, and start adding any music you like. This thread will always be great, but a playlist does have its benefits, such as being super convenient to listen to from anywhere on either a Spotify smartphone app or through play.spotify.com.