Bix's Influence. The Round Table at the 2003 Ascona Jazz Festival.
Posted Jun 13, 2012 2:21 PM
A portion of the report by Kim Hart-Poindexter on the Bix round table at the 2003 Ascona Jazz Festival.
The duration of the debate then focused on the real topic, the life story and the impact of Bix on the evolution of jazz. Some participants felt the musical legacy was paramount, while others felt itimpossible to separate the details of the musicians existence from his resulting body of music. Severalfelt that Bix contribution is more significant than he is given credit for [my bold font, AH]; suggestions were made that hiscontribution should have been emphasized in Ken Burns documentary film Jazz, in keeping with aneffort to increase his visibility among musicians and the public in general. Much focus was directed toward specific areas of his creativity, be they his fluid cornet solos or ingenious piano compositions.
Though his existence had a life-altering and dramatic effect on many, some commentators respectfullysuggested that, though his work was significant and skill unquestionable, the brevity of his life and thelimited body of work generated because of this element did not realistically place him on the level ofcertain other masters who affected music consistently over several decades of evolution. He was asignificant contributor, but none-the-less, one of many whose contributions made a difference but
Enthusiastic exchanges took place on Bix musical influences, which included not only his jazzcontemporaries, but also French Impressionists Debussy and Ravel, as well as Stravinsky. Bixsknown sight-reading limitations were believed to be offset by his improvisational skills.
In the end, the bonding of kindred spirits during Tom Pletchers narration of many and fascinatinganecdotes about Bix life and friends, some personally known also to other participants, providedcommon ground for a memorable appreciation of the life of a musical genius by a small but reverentgroup. No matter who the sponsors of the festival are, what other types of music are being playedadjacent stages, and how many people may be unaware of the historical impact of the music they arelistening to, Bix is present in Ascona, so far from his home, so many years later, an influence on morethan are aware. His legacy does indeed endure.
Members of the round table: Randy Sandke, Marty Grosz, Scott Robinson, David Sager, Kenny Davern, Gianpaolo Biagi, Cary Ginell, Michael Kieffer, and, last but not least, Tom Pletcher. Members of the audience who contributed were Andy Stein and Evan Christopher.