While many releases on long-gone European labels are hard to track, it is possible this French reed player has appeared on something like 150 jazz recording sessions since the late ’40s. Which isn’t bad, or rather is Badini.
Nothing establises him as the distinguished continental type more than a credit such as this: Gerard Badini, self-taught clarinetist and tenor saxophonist, made his professional debut at the Monte Carlo Sporting Club in 1952. He had begun his musical training as a classical singer, and picked up the clarinet in 1950.
While roulette wheels spun and clicked and the elite of Europe lost fortunes, Badini honed his musical craft in various traditional jazz bands. A tour of the European continent alongside Sidney Bechet was a chance to be heard by a more expansive jazz audience at venues such as the Salle Pleyal in his native Paris and Festival Hall across the pond in London.
It can be assumed that it was also an opportunity to be overshadowed.
Badini ‘s bingo is straight-ahead swing; he is a Benny Goodman man, although he solos capably and with a consistent sense of adventure within well-tested stylistic boundaries on tenor saxophone as well as clarinet.
Through the ’60s and ’70s he worked both as leader of his own small combos such as Swing Machine and behind visiting American stars including vocalist Helen Humes and a rotating series of ex-sidemen from Duke Ellington’s band. On that subject, a side cut with trombonist Sam Woodyard is some of the baddest Badini.
Badini tried living in New York for several years in the late ’70s, but returned to France by 1982, obsessing about getting a decent croissant in the morning.
The Super Swing Machine was his contribution to the culture of 1984. In the ’90s he arrived at the slightly less arrogant band name of Gerard Badini Big Band. This group, in co-leadership with Michel Leeb, recorded the fine 1996 tribute entitled Djangos d’Or featuring guest artists Johnny Griffin on tenor saxophone and vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater.