Sidney Bechet Society Connects Long Island to Jazz

For 17 years the Sidney Bechet Society (SBS) has tried to provide Long Island with a connection to jazz music.

“It is cool to show that Long Island has a deep and diverse connection to jazz music, as well as to the pop scene which is better known,” Phil Stern, secretary of the society said.

Jazz scholar Eric Offner formed the SBS in 1997 as a way to celebrate Sidney Bechet, the history of jazz and bring the music to Long Island. The honorary president of the SBS is Bechet’s son, Daniel Bechet who lives in Paris.

An early jazz pioneer, Sidney Bechet was born in New Orleans in May 1897. He played in New Orleans, Brooklyn and overseas in Paris. He died in 1959, but most recently his music was in the title sequence of Woody Allen’s film “Midnight in Paris.”

Each year the SBS sponsors a series concerts as well as various other activities such as jazz research. For Stern the society has been a way for him to be immersed in the world of music that he loves and to share that love with the people who attend their shows.

“It is gratifying to see the elated state people leave the theater in,” Stern said.

In the past 17 years the SBS has produced a series of live jazz sessions at various locations in New York City and Long Island as well as shows at Lincoln Center’s Midsummer Night Swing, The Lortel Theatre, The Kaye Playhouse, The Old Westbury Golf & Country Club and many more.

The have produced four cd’s, one studio recording and three live recordings, and most recently their April 21 concert featured a musician band of 14 young players from New York’s vintage jazz scene.

Stern, Offner and the vice president of the SBS are all Long Islanders and Stern thinks it’s important that they can foster the heritage of jazz here.

“That it doesn’t all have to come from Manhattan, or New Orleans, or a studio in LA, but can generate from right here in our own backyard,” Stern said.

Their next show is May 19 in New York City at the Symphony Space. It’s a tribute to Mat Domber, the founder and president of Arbors Records, who before his death in 2012 had helped release more than 300 classic jazz cds. Some of the musicians at the show will include, Dick Hyman, Bucky Pizzarelli and Bob Wilber, a Bechet protégé, as well as Anat Cohen and Wycliffe Gordon.

“This show is a chance to hear the top practitioners of vintage style jazz, all on one stage,” Stern said. “These folks have played with everyone from Charlie Parker to Wynton Marsalis over the years. I hope people will come out to celebrate Mat Domber, a man who helped keep this scene alive and thriving, and enjoy this rare gathering of passionate jazz artisans.”

To find out more about the show and for the rest of the 2014 season dates visit the Sidney Bechet Society online at

Video of Sidney Bechet Society’s June 2013 concert