Narrated by actor Richard Basehart, the film retraces [Bix Beiderbecke]'s life to the accompaniment of several of his recorded solos ("Jazz Me Blues," "Riverboat Shuffle," "In a Mist" among others). Beiderbecke's horn solos with the Wolverines, Paul Whiteman and Jean Goldkette follow the rise of this mostly self-taught musician, one of few white players to inspire his black counterparts.
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Leon (Bix) Beiderbecke was one of several wonder children of jazz who illuminated the scene for a brief time before their flame was snuffed out all too soon. Others were bassist Jimmy Blanton, guitarist Charlie Christian and trumpeters Clifford Brown and Bunny Berigan.
In "Bix," a two-hour profile of the tremendously respected cornetist- pianist -composer, Brigitte Berman provides a trenchant perspective of his personal and professional life through painstaking research, interviews with Beiderbecke's former colleagues and effective photographs and paintings.
Narrated by actor Richard Basehart, the film retraces Beiderbecke's life to the accompaniment of several of his recorded solos ("Jazz Me Blues," "Riverboat Shuffle," "In a Mist" among others). Beiderbecke's horn solos with the Wolverines, Paul Whiteman and Jean Goldkette follow the rise of this mostly self-taught musician, one of few white players to inspire his black counterparts.
Even Louis Armstrong, with whom the Davenport, Iowa, cornetist jammed in Chicago lauded him: "Ain't none of them play like him yet."
Despite an inability to read music, Beiderbecke rose to the status of cult hero, both admired and exploited by a public which allowed him no privacy. This consuming devotion contributed to a severe alcohol problem which led to blackouts during performances and erosion of his health. However, in his 28 years Beiderbecke amassed what would become a legacy of memorable music.
"Bix" contains interviews with Beiderbecke's sister, composer Hoagy Carmichael, a close friend who once hired the cornetist's band to play for a prom at the University of Indiana; arranger Bill Challis, clarinetist Matty Malneck and others. The poor sound reproduction of Armstrong's commentaries is the only flaw in this excellent portrait of Beidebecke the musician and ill- starred son denied his parents' recognition.
His parents never approved his choice of career, even when their son attained stardom with Whiteman's orchestra at Carnegie Hall. During a period of convalescence at the family home, he was painfully reminded of their intransigence when he found boxes of his recordings which he had sent them still unopened.
Another moving moment was Charlie Davis' piano solo of Beiderbecke's hitherto unheard ballad, "Cloudy."
Bix Beiderbecke died of pneumonia Aug. 6, 1931. One musician friend put it more succinctly: "He died of everything."
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