In the beginning there was…

A hearty welcome to my cosy den of giddy good times. Do take a seat, the fire’s just been lit. Let’s talk about this thing of ours. This thing we do, why we do it, where it came from, who stoked up the fires back then and what became of those places. Let’s take a look at some of those places of influence and what went on there.

Here is the site of, well, I think the video tells the story. The site is now a major police precinct in New Orleans, Louisiana, but the plaque lies in somewhat landscaped grounds in front of the main building, complete with gardens and a beautiful fountain as a backdrop. I’m not going into any great detail about the breadth or significance of His work. There are plenty of other places online you can read about that. If I must recommend one, the essays at are quite incredible.

All the videos and pictures you will see on these blog posts will be mine. Where there is an exception, then appropriate credit will be given.

Probably the main aim of this project is to preserve, and to provide a reference of, the footage I have taken all in one place. Footage of significant historical places, significant to the evolution of Jazz through the 1920s, in some cases even earlier.

Here now is a section of New Orleans where He spent much of his early years, perhaps into His early teens. This would be 1901-1912 approximately. This is really worth watching for a wealth of significance, including Louis Armstrong, Buddy Bolden and Bunk Johnson. Given the social and domestic environment into which He was born, it is admirable that Louis Armstrong still tried to find ways to keep himself out of trouble, for example, by befriending the Jewish boy and his family and working in their store (mentioned in the video).

More about Him later.

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Now to another Jazz Giant from New Orleans who blew with similar ferocity wherever he went, whether his hometown, or New York City, or Paris. All three cities played a major role in the life and career of Sidney Bechet. My favourite Bechet story is the one from 1924, when Coleman Hawkins, who was part of the great Fletcher Henderson Orchestra in New York City at the time, said something to the effect of ‘New Orleans musicians don’t know how to play jazz’. I’m not sure Hawkins would have lived into the latter half of the decade had he been in Louisiana at the time, but regardless, Bechet sent him a note naming the time and place for a musical duel, a cutting contest if you will. Wellman Braud, the great bassist, reported ‘Bechet blowing like a hurricane embarrassed the Hawk! He played and played and continued to play as a scolded Hawkins packed his horn and stalked out angrily. Bechet kept playing, marching off the stage blowing fiercely and following Hawkins outside and all the way up the street, still blowing the whole time!’. What a great image that conjures up.

In the video, the view when I pan to the right of the empty plot, up the street, leads to St Bernard. At that intersection, and no more than 50 yards to the right, was Bechet’s second home. Today, it is also a flattened plot of land.

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