Not bit players

by Mark Gabrish Conlan

Maybe Joe Martin wrote in his review that "as in almost every performance in which Beiderbecke participated, everyone but Bix was a bit player." But just before that he named 18 of the great musicians with whom Bix participated in the records included n the LP's he was reviewing (plus one, Arthur Schutt, who as you point out didn't), including Bill Rank, Tram, Matty Malneck, Lennie (misspelled "Lenny") Hayton, Bing Crosby, Miff Mole, Jimmy Dorsey, Pee Wee Russell (who I don't think is on any of the 36 tracks on Avakian's LP's, though a record with him turned up on Avakian's later Bix reissue, "The Bix Beiderbecke Legend" on RCA Victor) and Chauncey Morehouse. He's simply saying that as good as his associates were, Bix stood out over all of them for the passion, imagination and sophistication of his playing -- and that's something just about everyone on the Forum, I suspect, would agree with. And I certainly agree with Martin that Avakian's intelligent, well-written liner notes were almost as important a contribution to understanding Bix as the records themselves.

Posted on Jan 6, 2018, 5:05 PM

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