The Other King of New Orleans

Sidney Bechet, grandson of Omar, a
slave murdered because he was a slave
back in OldNewOrleans, later on Sidney Bechet
might’ve been the other king of New Orleans
but there was Louis and room for only
one such king here then. So in
Paris Bechet found both loyalty &
royalty & was duly
crowned. Sidney Bechet called

all nonclassical music ragtime.
Whatever it was, he
played it & when he
went from clarinet to soprano sax,
Bechet invented that, whatever
that new soprano sax lightning was,
it was from Bechet & Bechet
invented that. Paris: key grease on

fingers, fresh-shaved
reeds at the ready to uncork lightning
into the smoky violet hazes of clubs &
concert halls, in this Paris that had
adopted then adored him for a
lifetime & lifetimes to come, Bechet ok, on

“Tin Roof Blues” he played it like soft
crimson sopranosax kisses, caressed protected
like a mamajazzbear right before releasing
Bourben Street-borne baby into
the big bad ensemble &
maybe Charlie Shavers who was maybe the
only trumpetman of his time who could keep
up with Bechet’s lightning these bluest
blasts, maybe Charlie Shavers made sure every
heaven-sent solo-halos where every note
was Heroism Itself didn’t go off &
wander too far, got-to keep on our
planet these many immortal notes of Bechet,

whose grandfather was Omar, a slave murdered
because he was a slave. Omar’s grandson
Sidney Bechet became a king in Paris &
he always said, all nonclassical music
is ragtime, is my music, & this
is how he played it.

mr/2019

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