Featuring Wild Bill Davison
Sidney Bechet Runnin' Wild
## 1 -6 - recorded New York, january 21 1949
## 7 -12 - recorded New York, march 23, 1949
## 13-20 - recorded New York, april 19, 1950
After Blue Note switched to bop in 1947, it was the end of trad jazz on the label, with the exception of a few sessions led by Sidney Bechet and George Lewis. The masterful soprano saxophonist Bechet led no less than nine dates for Blue Note, as well as appearing as a sideman on four others, all of which were included in Mosaic's now out-of-print comprehensive Bechet box set. Three of Bechet's outings for Blue Note co-featured cornetist Wild Bill Davison, and all of that music is on this single 1998 CD. Since Bechet was generally quite dominant in ensembles, he did not usually get along well with trumpeters, and since Davison could be quite fiery, it is surprising that this matchup works so well. Bechet actually enjoyed Wild Bill's playing because the cornetist played fairly simply and left plenty of space. Davison had great respect for Bechet and is slightly more restrained than usual throughout these numbers, although he does let loose with some heated blasts here and there. This excellent Dixieland collection features one quintet and two sextet sessions with Bob Diehl or Jimmy Archey on trombone, Art Hodes or Joe Sullivan on piano, Pops Foster or Walter Page on bass and Freddie Moore or Slick Jones on drums; there are lots of hot moments on the warhorse material from the two principals. A surprise success.
All Music Guide
========= from the cover ==========
"The songs on this disc are almost all from the early amalgam of jazz and the popular song in the 1920s-one exception is "When The Saints Go Marching In," a hymn written in New Orleans in 1896, and another is "Joshua,' a spiritual brought to national attention by a best-selling 1925 Paul Robeson record The style or the performances, however, is the hard-driving swing associated with Greenwich Village saloons in the early forties, itself a refinement of the Chicago style that replaced the New Orleans two beat with four-four and featured successions of improvised solo choruses. Although in the critical sniping of the forties, "Nicksieland"-named for the Village club operated by Nick Rongetti-was disdained by lie traditionalists as inauthen-tic and the modernists as old fashioned, it is pure, vibrant jazz: No longer in the mainstream, it is still a favorite at jazz parties and festivals.
Responsibility for Sidney Bechet, Wild Bill Davison and Art Hodes coming together for these ; sessions is shared among several people. In 1938, John Hammond presented Sidney Bechet, among others, at Carnegie Hall, where Alfred lion heard him. Among the performers at the Hammond concert were Meade "Lux" Lewis and Albert Amrnons, and a few days later. Lion recorded them. The results were good enough to sell, and the sides initiated the Blue Note label. Lion promptly recorded Sidney Bechet as well (Blue Note 6). Nick Rongetti liked post-Chicago jazz and featured it at Nick's to the exclusion of all other varieties of jazz. Bechet and Davison both played at Nick's and they may have played together there or at jam sessions organized by Nick's guitarist and talent scout, Eddie Condon, or by Mitt Gabler (of Commodore Records). They first recorded together for Blue Note on an Art Modes session in October 1945, when Davison was featured in Hodes's quartet, then playing at the Village Vanguard.
New Orleans-born Sidney Bechet (1897-1959) (pronounced Besh-ay), was senior member of the group. Of French-African ancestry, his family had been middle-class tradesmen since colonial days. Although his parents expected him to learn a trade with his brothers, his dedication to the clarinet and later the soprano saxophone won out. He began professional work in his teens, including a regular association with King Oliver, and he dropped out of school.
In 1917, a touring band took him to Chicago, where he stayed until 1919 when he toured Europe with Will Marion Cook's orchestra The reception for the band and soloist Bechet was sensational, and he stayed in England for a couple of years before moving to New York in 1922. Although New York remained his base until a permanent move to Paris in 1951, he continued to perform regularly in Europe. He was held in high regard by his peers, and he recorded often. For a few months in the Twenties, Bechet played with Duke Ellington, and was featured in the Noble Sissle band off and on from 1928 through 1938, In 1932, he formed a small band with trumpeter Tommy Ladnier, but the early thirties were not economically viable for jazz, and in 1933-34, he and Ladnier operated a tailor's shop After* his final engagement with Sissle, Bechet joined the lineup at Nick's. From then on, he was a star soloist, sometimes with ad hoc groups under his leadership, more often as guest leader of someone else's band.
Art Hodes (pronounced Ho-dees) was born in the Ukraine in 1904, but from til age of six months until his death in 1993, he was a Chicagoan except for tine years 1938-1950, when he lived in New York. In 1926, he Joined the Wolverines, and for the rest of his life played in small bands-some under his leadership, made many records-often for Blue Note,-edited and published the magazine Jazz Record, produced jazz on early television and taught. Throughout he was a superb blues pianist.
Wild Bill Davison (1905-1989) got his nickname from a poster at a Chicago club where he was playing, but it didn't stick until the 1940s. The name fit the raw ebullience of his cornet playing and it also fit his personality-he was a crude womanizer and a kleptomaniac, and although he didn't show symptoms of alcoholism, he drank more than a fifth of whisky or gin every day. He was born in Defiance, Ohio and was raised by his grandparents in the basement of the Carnegie library where his grandfather was custodian. He took up the cornet as a child, and when he began getting paying work, was advised by a school counselor to drop out. His career was almost entirely one of drift. He played around Ohio until 1925, when the band he happened to be with landed a job in Chicago. Davison stayed there until a 1933 job offer in Milwaukee, which became his base until 1941, when a fan who was also a wealthy widow offered to fund a move to New York. Within weeks of his arrival, he was invited to sit in at Nick's and Nick hired him on the spot. He became a Condon regular, performing and recording as sideman or nominal leader. When clubs were no longer a steady source of income, he played concerts and festivals around the world, doing so until his death.
The chemistry between Bechet and Davison on record, including especially these classic sides, is marvelous. Davison once told me that Bechet liked to play with him because he didn't get in Bechets way. (Bill's exact words are less printable.) A better reason may be the compatibility of their styles. Bechet was one of the most powerful soloists in jazz, amplified by the metallic sound of the soprano sax, and he tended to overwhelm other players. Davison's rough tone and explosive imprecations fully matched Bechets. Bill was self-taught and apparently had his distinctive sound from the beginning. Although he couldn't sight read music, he had an instinctive grasp of harmony, which contributed to his improvisations and allowed him to accompany the solos of others smoothly. For whatever reason, when Bechet and Davison recorded for Blue Note, the results were unquestionably Desert Island Discs.
-Art Hilgart (contributor, The Journal of the International Association of Jazz Record Collectors)