We go back to our roots with this program! We decided to honor one of the folk heroes of American music by performing music associated with Bix Beiderbecke during his very short life. To our amazement we found that Bix had performed on over 750 numbers, either on recordings or radio broadcasts (most without Bix solos, unfortunately). This gave us a vast repertoire to draw upon. But we do promise to include many of the numbers most associated with him, such as "Davenport Blues", "Copenhagen", "Royal Garden Blues", "Clarinet Marmalade", "I'm Comin' Virginia", "Riverboat Shuffle" and more!
Bix -- Man & Legend
This is the title of one of the first authoritative books about Bix Beiderbecke, and it immediately presents an interesting irony. Bix was 28 years old when he died. His performing and recording career lasted only seven years. He suffered from alcoholism and was often unable to perform during the last few years of his life. He was largely self-taught on cornet and piano and was often thrust into performing situations in which he could not read the assigned parts. He was largely unknown to the general public during his lifetime. His family never approved of his work as a musician and did not support his efforts.
Why, then, is he legendary? It is generally accepted that the 1938 novel by Dorothy Baker, Young Man With a Horn, based very loosely on Bix’s life, provided a basis for making the tragedy of his short, brilliant career a symbol of the Roaring Twenties. Among musicians, however, there was from the beginning a great admiration for his playing. Technical reasons included his beautiful, distinctive and bell-like tone, so different from that of other jazz players. There was his unusual use of pitch choices and rhythms. Even during his lifetime, other brass and reed players memorized his solos; Bix was one of the the first players accorded that kind of flattery, admiration and emulation. And at a time when jazz, like the rest of society, was deeply divided along racial lines, Bix was the first white jazz hero.
In the words of historian Samuel Charters, “The quality which Beiderbecke brought to his music…was an intensively creative attitude. White musicians in New York at this time often regarded jazz as simply an entertainment novelty and they lacked a sense of creative excitement – they never reached a more intense emotional level than a sort of relentless ‘cheerfulness’. Bix was more than cheerful, he was joyous, and it was a joyousness that matched the emotional intensity of the most creative figures of jazz.”
The roll call of musicians who played alongside Bix Beiderbecke in the 1920s, in such varied groups as the Wolverines, Bix and His Rhythm Jugglers, and the orchestras of Jean Goldkette, Frankie Trumbauer and Paul Whiteman, is also a compendium of some of the most important jazz players in the country at the time: saxophonists Frankie Trumbauer, Jimmy Dorsey and Bud Freeman; clarinetists Benny Goodman and Pee Wee Russell; trombonists Tommy Dorsey and Bill Rank; violinists Joe Venuti and Matty Malneck; guitarist Eddie Lang; bassist Steve Brown; arranger Bill Challis; and singers Bing Crosby, Harry Barris and Al Rinker. It would probably be safe to say that all of these musicians and many more had a high respect for Bix.
A footnote about some instruments you will hear tonight that have not had a part in previous Jazz Kings performances. We include the violin because of the important part that Joe Venuti played in Bix’s career. We also include the rarely heard C-Melody saxophone because it was often used by Frankie Trumbauer, although probably not as often as the history books would have you believe. Finally, we will have our trumpet players playing cornet much of the time because that is what Bix played. Until the advent of Louis Armstrong, the cornet was used by most high brass players. One can debate the qualities of the two instruments, but in general the cornet is mellower and sweeter, the trumpet more brilliant. At one point in the teens, in fact, Herbert L. Clarke, the famous cornet soloist with Sousa's band, declared that the cornet was “God’s instrument” and the trumpet was the “devil’s instrument”. We’ll let you decide the validity of that judgment.
— Stephen Stone, Jazz Kings Director & Conductor
|SET I -- AT THE JAZZ BAND BALL
||At The Jazz Band Ball
||Nick LaRocca, Larry Shields
||Original Dixieland Jazz Band
||Singin’ The Blues
||Lewis, Young, Conrad, Robinson
Sugar (That Sugar Baby O’ Mine) 1927 Sidney Mitchell, Edna Alexander, Maceo Pinkard
Clementine (From New Orleans) 1927 Henry Creamer, Harry Warren
Royal Garden Blues 1919 Clarence Williams, Spencer Williams
Sweet Sue – Just You 1928 Will Harris, Victor Young
Davenport Blues 1925 Bix Beiderbecke
Stringin’ The Blues 1926 Joe Venuti, Eddie Lang
Riverboat Shuffle 1924 Dick Voynow, Hoagy Carmichael, I. Mills, Mitchell Parish
San 1920 Lindsay McPhail, Walter Michels
Baby, Won’t You Please Come Home 1923 Charles Warfield, Clarence Williams
Tiger Rag 1917 Original Dixieland Jazz Band
SET II -- RHYTHM KING
Rhythm King 1928 Jo Trent, J. Russel Robinson
In A Mist 1927 Bix Beiderbecke
Candlelights 1930 Bix Beiderbecke
There Ain’t No Sweet Man That’s That’s Worth The Salt Of My Tears 1927 Fred Fisher
I’ve Found A New Baby 1926 Jack Palmer, Spencer Williams
Dardanella 1919 Fred Fisher, Felix Bernard, Johnny Black
So The BLuebirds And The Blackbirds Got Together 1929 Billy Moll, Harry Barris
You Brought A New Kind Of Love To Me 1930 Sammy Fain, Irving Kahal, Pierre Connor
From Monday On 1928 Harry Barris, Bing Crosby
I’d Rather Be Blue Over You 1928 Billy Rose, Fred Fisher
Dear Bix 1976 Dave Frishberg
Alabamy Bound 1925 B.G. DeSylva, Bud Green, Ray Henderson