never an error, never a “corny” note

by Albert Haim

Nassau Literary Review , Volume 94, Number 3, 1 February 1936
Swing Music By Frank M. Tack '35
At about the same time as the Chicagoans there arose a young trumpeter from Davenport, lowa, who quickly became what most good swing enthusiasts consider the greatest trumpeter in the world, Bix Beiderbecke. Many, including the writer, consider him among the world’s greatest musicians, and for this reason it is difficult to present an objective study of his work, avoiding claims which may seem extravagant to those not understanding his accomplishments 7 . Bix’s tone and technique are completely unique and above reproach, but nothing and no one has ever come close to attaining his height in the most important and subjective characteristic of all Swing Music, phrasing. In this respect a swing musician plays the same role as the composer of classical music. But here the printed note means nothing whatsoever, the tune is equally unimportant, a mere ruse, an excuse for playing. Beiderbecke played straight from the heart, not straight from the pocketbook as so many other musicians do, never an error, never a “corny” note; Bix would just close his eyes and play phrase after phrase of pure Swing Music. He played in several small bands, but his best work began when he joined the Jean Goldkette Orchestra around 1926, during which time he recorded several records with Goldkette 8 , but more with a band formed just for recording by Frankie Trumbauer 9 , at that time an excellent alto saxophonist also with Goldkette. After this both Bix and Frankie joined Paul Whiteman’s band which at the time was very good 10 , although the same individual is now proprietor of a musical graveyard not a great deal unlike that run by Mr. Noble. Also into Whiteman’s band went other important members of Goldkette’s, Ed Lang, a great guitar player, Jim Dorsey, trumpet, sax and clarinet, Bill Rank and Tom Dorsey, trombones, and Joe Venuti, violin 11 . In 1931 Bix died at the age of 26 (NB 28); his passing constituting a major Swing tragedy. Teschmaker and Ed Lang died at about the same time.


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