Stu, you are right about the progress of a a Bix novice. The Gang and Trumbauer recordings are the most accessible to new ears, mainly because the work of Bix and the other major hot jazz players with whom he was associated was so influential that they passed down the style that they substantially created and perfected, and it is still being used by working musicians. The newest Wolverines compendium is much easier to listen to, and if you've become very familiar with the slightly later Bix, you'll see why they are special if you really listen.
I had a harder time with the Whiteman recordings, too, partly because of the "dated" period style of some of them and partly because the listeners have to wade through all those "symphonic jazz" overlays to get to the Bix parts. But, my, oh my, are there some gems of Bix's genius there, showing the range of his creativity and musicality. So hang in there. It's worth it.