Alan Ross in his book "The Rest is Noise" writes about black composers in the USA in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. Some were well taught and trained and became wonderful players of various intruments, but they never could get recognition and often, like Will Marion Cook (whom Dvorak thought would become a great composer), never made the grade in classical music and resorted to forming bands.
Cook formed a band called The New York Syncopated Orchestra and asked Sydney Bechet to join it - which he did.
I may have come close to Sydney Bechet a long time ago. On a holiday in Paris some time back we, three students, joined a club called The St Germain de Pres night club. We spent a lot of money there and heard a lot of good jazz and saw some rather risque shows....
Anyway, a few weeks after coming home I went to a barber's shop in Cardiff and the usual bloke cutting my hair asked me if I'd been anywhere nice on holiday. I told him I'd been to Paris and while there had joined the St Germain club.
He stopped cutting hair; he came round to look at me.
"Sydney Bechet plays there," he said.
He continued cutting my hair but I could see he was moved or impressed or envious.
I knew (I had seen him a few times) that in his spare time he played in a local swing and jazz band that performed at various dance halls in the city.
Like Bechet he played the clarinet.