Bix Beiderbecke Appreciation Thread, on his 100th Birthday

Bix was born March 3, 1903.

One of my favorite jazz players—loved his stuff before I knew who he was, as I have some of his records (both on 78s and in collections). He was a red-hot cutie, too; and you really have to admire the stick-to-it-iveness of someone who can drink himself to death at the age of 28!

A great player indeed. Those recordings always sound like the best party you’ve ever been to was happening in the next room. Wild, stomping times. What happened to the cornet, anyway?

Happy birthday, Mr. Beiderbecke!

Favorite Bix anecdote…during the last year of his life, he was living in a borrowed apartment in Queens, where he would often sit up late at night drinking and doodling about on his horn, trying out new things. One day the downstairs neighbors called the apartment owner and mentioned that they were hearing the cornet at four in the morning.

“Oh, my god,” said the owner. “I’ll talk to him about it!”

“Oh, please don’t,” the neighbor said. “We wouldn’t want him to STOP…”

Cornets were the typical lead instrument in New Orleans brass bands and the first jazz groups, primarily because there were a lot of them around…you could find 'em used in pawnshops for a few bucks, castoffs from the military and other brass bands.

By the late '20s/early '30s, nearly all jazz cornetists (including Louis Armstrong) had switched to the brighter, more direct sound of the trumpet. (The cornet has a conical bore, like an F horn or tuba, and therefore has a mellower tone than the cylindrically-bored trumpet.)

BY the '40s and '50s, a few trumpeters had switched back to cornet, liking the “rounder” sound…Ray Nance of the Ellington band, was one; Nat Adderley, Cannonball’s brother, was another. Most trumpeters preferred to double on fleugelhorn, though, which is an even softer-sounding variant.

Cornets are still around, though, if you look hard enough. I own two of 'em.

I think Hawthorne meant what happened to Bix’s cornet?

Ruby Braff, another great coronet player who had a beautful tone and a wonderful way with the instrument, just died about 3 weeks ago. Another of the old-school players gone.

Happy Birthday, Bix!

In addition to his other accomplishments, he was also a major influence on Hoagy Carmichael.

Damn, can’t believe I mentioned Nance and Adderley and forgot Braff! I love his playing; got a wonderful session he did with Jack Teagarden in the late '50s, as well as some of his more recent Concord releases. It must have taken some balls to enter the jazz world in the late '40s playing like Armstrong instead of Gillespie!

Not sure when Bix’s horn would have ended up, but he must have had several of them over the years, and I’ll bet not a few ended up in pawnshops. You can still visit his family home in Davenport, Iowa, and he’s buried there, too. There must be one there (the house, not the cemetery)…possibly another in that Jazz Museum that recently opened up in Kansas City.

I think my favorite Bix recordings are when he was with Jean Goldkette’s Orchestra, and Frankie Trumbauer’s. Though I love the Paul Whiteman stuff, too . . . Actually, there’s none of Bix’s work I don’t like!

If you go to this Bixography site, your computer will begin to play his extremely cool piano piece “In a Mist.”

Don’t do this if you’re at work without shutting the door first.

I prefer his recordings that don’t feature vocals. This is a personal preference only - the too-tight-drawers style of male singing in the 20’s is a little grating.

You have a nice race, Mr. Bix

Holy shit! Uke.

I’ve seen tribute sites before, but this one doesn’t sleep. They seem to add an update every day or two. Never more than a week. Incredible.

I, too, love Bix and his work. I’ve never explored it deeply, but now I will. Thanks, everyone who posted.

Just bumping this up today, on Bix’s actual centennary . . .