Nice obit, but it didn't mention Bix

by Mark Gabrish Conlan

This was a very nice obituary for George Avakian, but it didn't mention his key role in reviving and sustaining interest in Bix. Along with reissuing four LP albums each by Louis Armstrong and Bessie Smith, Avakian produced the three LP's of "The Bix Beiderbecke Story" for Columbia in the early 1950's. When he went to RCA Victor in the late 1950's, he followed up his advocacy for Bix with the single LP "The Bix Beiderbecke Legend," on which the 1924 Bix-Goldkette recording "I Didn't Know" was released for the first time. I suspect just about everyone on the Forum first heard Bix through Avakian's well-produced reissues, and many of us first learned the basics of his life story through Avakian's literate liner notes for them.

I would only hope that someday Universal Music, current owners of the Decca catalog, would reissue Avakian's first jazz albums -- the "Chicago Jazz" compilation mentioned in the article and the companion volumes on New Orleans and Kansas City -- as CD's. Though some of the material on these 78 rpm sets has come out on CD, not all of it has and it's never been reassembled the way Avakian did it originally. These albums, which combined reissued sides with newly made records Avakian produced, were key landmarks in the documentation of jazz history and contained much great music.

Posted on Dec 1, 2017, 9:39 PM

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