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Bixology

Bix Beiderbecke

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Album Review

Bixology is the alternate title of Bix Beiderbecke's piano-composed etude, "In a Mist." In the wonderful world of reissued classic jazz, Bixology is also a logical choice for the title of a Beiderbecke anthology. Indeed there are several on the market that share this heading. Issued in 1999, the Giants of Jazz Bixology is a haphazard grab bag of 25 recordings culled from Beiderbecke's all-too-brief career. Opening with the fabulous "Jazz Me Blues" as played by the Wolverines on February 18, 1924, this overview skims through some of the records Beiderbecke made in cahoots with his C melody saxophone-toting friend Frankie Trumbauer, tosses in "Trumbology" which is a spotlight feature for Trumbauer (and not Beiderbecke); touches upon Beiderbecke's magnum opus the "Davenport Blues," and stumbles over several more Wolverines sides as if accidentally or unconsciously treading a path already trodden. The producers then saw fit to sample the sounds of Beiderbecke with the Jean Goldkette Orchestra, dole out a few more examples of Beiderbecke as a leader and finish off with "Bessie Couldn't Help It," a twilight offering from the ailing alcoholic cornetist who sat in with Hoagy Carmichael's group on September 15, 1930. It's always wonderful to hear Beiderbecke, but better anthologies are available. This one seems as unsavory as its sloppy cover art, a smudged and blotted attempt at portraiture that bears little resemblance to the Bix Beiderbecke we know and love. Who is that creature trapped in careless sketchy pigments? It looks like a cross between movie mobster James Cagney and rock promoter Bill Graham of Fillmore fame. The effect is oddly unpleasant. Beiderbecke was such an interesting looking fellow.

Biography

Born: 10 March 1903 in Davenport, IA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '20s, '30s

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...
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