The Jazz Crusade Audio Sampler Catalog
JCCD-3036: Jazz Nocturne 1 - Bunk, Bocage & Bechet in Boston

Personnel: Bunk Johnson, Peter Bocage [tp], Sidney Bechet [cl/ssx], Ray Parker [pn], Pops Foster [sbs], George Thompson [dm]

Songs: [with Bunk] Sister Kate, Clarinet Marmalade, High Society, Royal Garden Blues, Willie the Weeper, Sobbin' Blues, Blue Bells Goodbye 1 & 2, Perdido Street Stomp, [with Bocage] Exactly Like You, Tea for Two, Sobbin' Blues, Panama, Sweet Lorraine, Boogie Woogie, Sweet Georgia Brown.

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Reviews for:
JCCD-3036: Jazz Nocturne 1 - Bunk, Bocage & Bechet in Boston

Break - Tallahassee's Entertainment Weekly

In the mid-1940s, the legendary [and temperamental] jazz clarinetist and saxophonist Sidney Bechet hoped to revive New Orleans lagging jazz scene. Bechet himself had bounced back and forth from New Orleans to England to France, and back again for reasons both personal and professional during his storied career.
But on one particular return, Bechet teamed up with fellow New Orleanian & trumpeter Bunk Johnson for a recording session at Blue Note that both thought could serve as a springboard to bigger things for themselves & the Crescent City. And that is the backdrop for this, the first of a five-disc series released by Jazz Crusade of the Bechet "Jazz Nocturne" radio shows.
This first disc is split into two parts: first, nine tracks culled from the April 3 1945 rehearsal for the program. These tracks feature Johnson & Bechet along with Ray Parker [pn], George Thompson [dm] & the inimitable George "Pops" Foster [bs]. But, probably due to Bechet's colorful personality, Johnson bailed out of the program after a few show and trumpeter Peter Bocage stepped in for the May 1 recording session for the program on WCOP.
The result is a remarkable duet - some might say duel - between Bechet & two of New Orleans' most respected trumpeters. At times they appear to complement themselves in spite of themselves as they trade off melodies and snake around each other.
- David Lee Simmons


Jazz Rag - British Magazine

Some of the music is disappointing, but piecing together the clash of egos is great fun. On a rehearsal session Bechet, on clarinet, without that supremely dominating soprano tone, buzzes frantically around an occasionally uncertain Johnson on a set of New Orleans stocks before seizing the soprano for "Perdido Street Stomp," basically a blues, but with unexpected little riffs and turns: Bunk is definitely the "second voice" here. Sure enough, on the second session, a broadcast a month later, the more accomodating Peter Bocage is in the trumpet chair and Bechet is in charge, roaring into "Exactly Like You" on soprano sax, a man happy in his work.
- Ron Simpson


Victory Music Review - U.S.A.

Bunk's great traditional sweet, precise jazz tone and Bechet's swinging bold clarinet are beautiful. Pops Foster's booming bass cements the rhythm. Normally traditional jazz has three, even four, horns in the lead ensemble, to have just two and watch them interweave gives a clear indication of the talent like Bunk's swinging on Willie the Weeper and Bechet in counterpoint making the clarinet sound almost like a muted trumpet. Great to have these available over 50 years later.
- Chris Lunn


Victory Music Review - U.S.A. [2nd review]

Bunk, Bechet & Foster were playing New Orleans together in some fashion as early as 1911.Bunk dropped out of the music scene for a few decades, but was found again in the 40s. In April 1945, he was reunited with his former band mates in Boston for three sessions at the Savoy Cafe. All three performances are filled with beautiful playing. Even though the two men hadn't played together in years, the trumpet and soprano sax just weave together. Jazz history buffs should definitely appreciate this addition to the music scene.
- Chris Yeargers


Mississippi Rag - U. S. A.

I guess you might call them the three Bs of New Orleans Jazz. That sounds good to me. So does the music. Anyone who has read Sidney Bechet's autobiography, Treat It Gentle, is aware of this March/AprS, 1945 gig at the Savoy Cafe in Boston,.. at least Sidney's side of the story. Not having access to Bunk's reminiscences, I would nevertheless suggest that Chapter 16 of John Chilton's Sidney Bechet, The Wizard of Jazz offers a less one-sided account of what went down, regardless of who is to blame.
Even allowing for the belligerence of the two combatants in this situation, there is music in this encounter that is truly breathtaking. The first nine cuts on this CD are from a rehearsal of April 3, 1945 which finds both Bunk and Bechet in rare form. Bunk had not been playing regularly for some time, so there certainly are some clams, but that just adds to the excitement. And what a joy it is to hear tunes like "Willie The Weeper" and "High Society" played by a band in which the front line players have the sound of the Eureka Brass Band in their ears and the taste of red beans and rice in their memories.
After the parting of the ways between these two primal jazz giants, Bunk Johnson was replaced by the less fabled but excellent New Orleans horn man, Peter Bocage. While Bunk and Bocage are both wonderful players, the lack of tension is immediately apparent. While the ensemble playing from the broadcast of May 1, 1945, with Bocage and Bechet sounds infinitely more comfortable, I miss the edge that the Bechet vs. Bunk confrontation gave to the music of the rehearsal.
The rhythm section, while less well known, does boast of one New Orleans veteran, bassist "Pops" Foster, who is listed in Chilton as being five years Sidney Bechet's senior. The young Boston players, pianist Ray Parker and drummer George Thompson, do an excellent job of furnishing support to their elders.
The good news is that this represents the first of five CDs to be issued by the Jazz Crusade label documenting all broadcasts from The Savoy Cafe of Sidney Bechet and His New Orleans Rhythm Kings which include Bechet with either Bunk or New Orleans Rhythm King Bocage.
- Joe H. Klee


AMG *** Review - U. S. Jazz Guide

In 1945, Sidney Bechet tried to realize his dream of putting together an old-style New Orleans jazz band with veteran trumpeter Bunk Johnson, and the group played a long engagement at the Savoy Café in Boston. Unfortunately, Johnson's drinking and attitude resulted in erratic music and his departure from the group. After 19-year-old Johnny Windhurst ably filled the trumpet spot for a few weeks, Peter Bocage arrived from New Orleans. Bocage also did not work out (his style was too gentle for Bechet) and Windhurst ended up finishing up the engagement before the band broke up. In the 1970s, the Fat Cat label came out with a dozen LPs that featured all of this group's radio broadcasts along with a few rehearsals. In the late '90s, the Jazz Crusade label reissued the music with Johnson and Bocage but unfortunately not the more rewarding performances with Windhurst. On the first of five CDs, there are nine songs of Bechet with Johnson at a rehearsal and seven by the Bechet-Bocage group from a radio broadcast; all have pianist Ray Parker, bassist Pops Foster, and drummer George Thompson as the rhythm section. Bechet plays quite well throughout these numbers, Johnson is OK and Bocage is a bit weak but sincere. The music overall is of interest, if not flawless or essential.
- Scott Yanow


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