Bob Wilber formed The Bechet Legacy in honour of his former teacher, Sidney Bechet. Although Bob’s playing doesn’t sound at all like Bechet’s, he keeps the great man’s memory alive by playing his compositions and other music from the era when Bechet flourished. In fact Bob Wilber has a calmer approach to the clarinet and soprano sax than Sidney Bechet did. It was therefore a good idea for Wilber to recruit Glenn Zottola as his colleague in the front line of The Bechet Legacy, because Zottola has a very contrasting style.
Whereas most of Bob Wilber’s playing is legato, Glenn Zottola’s is generally the precise opposite – staccato. In fact Glenn might be called a disciple of Louis Armstrong, because his methods are so similar to Satch’s. While Bob Wilber charms with subtle romance and lyricism, Glenn Zottola astounds with high notes and hugely impressive displays.
This recording was made by an enthusiastic amateur at two concerts in Lancaster in the early 1980s. True to its name, The Bechet Legacy plays no fewer than eight compositions by Sidney Bechet, including the mysterious Egyptian Fantasy, the poignant Si Tu Vois Ma Mère, and the evocative Georgia Cabin. This is a reminder, if it were needed, that Bechet could compose atmospheric pieces.
Other highlights include Summertime, a tune which Sidney Bechet memorably recorded. Wilber follows in Bechet’s footsteps with several emotional choruses. The first CD ends with a cherishable version of Sweet Lorraine, starting at mid-tempo but hotting up when Zottola’s trumpet solo brings on the melodrama. Glenn also features in Memories of You, where he is backed simply by the rhythm section.
We can be glad that these recordings were dug out of the archives and made available for us all to enjoy.