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Bix Beiderbecke

Bix Beiderbecke was one of the greatest jazz musicians of the 1920s. His colorful life, quick rise and fall, and eventual status as a martyr made him a legend even before he died, and he has long stood as proof that not all the innovators in jazz history were black. Possessor of a beautiful, distinctive tone and a strikingly original improvising style, Beiderbecke's only competitor among cornetists in the '20s was Louis Armstrong but (due to their different sounds and styles) one really could not compare them.

Beiderbecke was a bit of a child prodigy, picking out tunes on the piano when he was three. While he had conventional training on the piano, he taught himself the cornet. Influenced by the original Dixieland Jazz Band, Beiderbecke craved the freedom of jazz but his straight-laced parents felt he was being frivolous. He was sent to Lake Forest Military Academy in 1921 but, by coincidence, it was located fairly close to Chicago, the center of jazz at the time. Beiderbecke was eventually expelled he missed so many classes. After a brief period at home he became a full-time musician. In 1923, Beiderbecke became the star cornetist of the Wolverines and a year later this spirited group made some classic recordings.

In late 1924, Beiderbecke left the Wolverines to join Jean Goldkette's orchestra but his inability to read music resulted in him losing the job. In 1925, he spent time in Chicago and worked on his reading abilities. The following year he spent time with Frankie Trumbauer's orchestra in St. Louis. Although already an alcoholic, 1927 would be Beiderbecke's greatest year. He worked with Jean Goldkette's orchestra (most of their records are unfortunately quite commercial), recorded his piano masterpiece "In a Mist" (one of his four Debussy-inspired originals), cut many classic sides with a small group headed by Trumbauer (including his greatest solos: "Singin' the Blues," "I'm Comin' Virginia," and "Way Down Yonder in New Orleans"), and then signed up with Paul Whiteman's huge and prosperous orchestra. Although revisionist historians would later claim that Whiteman's wide mixture of repertoire (much of it outside of jazz) drove Beiderbecke to drink, he actually enjoyed the prestige of being with the most popular band of the decade. Beiderbecke's favorite personal solo was his written-out part on George Gershwin's "Concerto in F."

With Whiteman, Beiderbecke's solos tended to be short moments of magic, sometimes in odd settings; his brilliant chorus on "Sweet Sue" is a perfect example. He was productive throughout 1928, but by the following year his drinking really began to catch up with him. Beiderbecke had a breakdown, made a comeback, and then in September 1929 was reluctantly sent back to Davenport to recover. Unfortunately, Beiderbecke made a few sad records in 1930 before his death at age 28. The bad liquor of the Prohibition era did him in.

For the full story, Bix: Man & Legend is a remarkably detailed book. Beiderbecke's recordings (even the obscure ones) are continually in print, for his followers believe that every note he played was special. ~ Scott Yanow, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

Noice music
Stupid, Mary.
boffo jazz ala NO
kyotee42
Bix, like a candle in the wind. I suggest reading up on his history to gain a perspective of the man, his music, his parents and his talent. The man was blessed w/ an ability few have and was in the wrong era. The rot-gut available during prohibition, a lack of parental support and the wild life of the times, only helped to exacerbate his life and lagacy. Like Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon, Glen Miller and so many others... gone but not forgotten.
He was a martyr? For what? Alcohol?
Goodness, who wrote this bio? It is certainly not up to the standard of the usual ones on Pandora.
Outstanding music for that age or any age, for that matter.....I simply cant get enough of it.
i love old jazz from the 1920s.it is some kind of music wonderfull
I love this Bix by der Becke, never get tired of it (nicolas)
well-no one is here-so i'm jacking off so to speak-but i'm a metalhead who loves,bix bird,dizzy,s u n ra albert ayler,jelly roll,ella fitzgerald,v e r y very early armstrong,ve r y late miles davis-go figure-frank i e trumbauer,ja n i s joplin,bessi e smith but metal first-god-i think i'm going to die of consumption myself anyday now-i'm eleven years sober but i tried to drink a case of beer a day and it's caught up with me-you can't fool the big guy you know-bix sure didn't...
for me-it's bix,jelly roll and the very early louis armstrong-th o s e three sum up the music of the time for me-of course-they giants ! all possess genius and I have been listening to them for over 40 years-never get tired of them.
Such a tragic loss or such a great talent. I wonder what else he might have given us had he lived. That's not to say that he didn't give us plenty but it would have been interesting to see where he would have gone as he matured.
love this
jimsdottir
Wonderful stuff!
pure joy
boogiespeed
Chust da Best

R.I.P. Bix
Bix Lives
lakers32
Goes well with Armstrong's initial band. "The best of Louis Armstrong: The Hot Five and Hot Seven recordings" That is the best album which Pandora should have in its library.
Nothing makes me smile like anything by Bix. I'd rather hear Bix and Tram Play then anything before or since. Just the greatest.
His orginality and creativity with harmony, counterpoint , syncopation, and tone revealed his genius. I wish to this day that I could play as well as he did.
billbaugh193 9
My Dad played with Bix in St. Louis at the Arcadea Ballroom "battle of bands" He played a c-mellody sax which I still have in a place of honor on my wall. I grew up listening to this music on record in the 49s ,50s 60s & today still think there is nthing like it. I lived in New Orleans 20 years but never hear this sound. Yours ion Mirth & Music, Wm. R. Baugh, MD

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