The Bixography Discussion Group
A vehicle for Bixophiles and other interested individuals to ask questions, make comments and exchange information about Bix Beiderbecke and related subjects.
Any views expressed in the Bixography Forum represent solely the opinions of those expressing them and are not necessarily endorsed or opposed by Albert Haim unless he has signed the message.
I started archiving some of the threads that have been inactive for some time.
The archived threads can be found at http://ms.cc.sunysb.edu/~alhaim/archivesforum.htm
I started archiving some of the threads that have been inactive for some time. The archived threads can be found at http://ms.cc.sunysb.edu/~alhaim/archivesforum.htm
(Well, an appropriation of Red, anyway!)
Last night, my wife was watching the second episode of "Mob City" on TNT, while I was reading in the other room - then, my ears perked up: to my astonishment, I heard a VERY familiar trumpet (cornet) solo! They were doing a 1920s segment on this particular episode (about 5 minutes into the program), and I was hearing Red Nichols' solo on the Don Voorhees Columbia 78 of "Baby's Blue" !! In fact, a band had transcribed the ENTIRE RECORD, note for note - unfortunately, the female vocalist (in place of Whispering Irving Kaufman) did not really sound very 20s. Amazing that this was chosen, as I don't think it's really been reissued that much over the years; someone had to have been struck by the fine arrangement, and the superb Nichols solo (accompanied by Dick McDonough on guitar).
Amazing what turns up on TV now and then!
I found that Mob City takes place in LA in the 1940s. But the episode you cited starts with a flashback to New York City in 1925, hence the music.
Lord's discography lists two recordings of Baby's Blue in the 1920s: one by Nat Shilkret (Aug 18, 1927) and one by Don Voorhees (wwith Red, Sep 10, 1927).
Very nice version of this excellent song by Nat Shilkret with Mike Mosiello, Tommy Dorsey and Johnny Marvin.
And here is the version by Don Voorhees with Red, Miff and Frank Harris (a pseudonym for Irving Kaufman, singing in a mellow manner).
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4GQZxfQByN8 (terrible quality, but Miff comes through anyway loud and clear!)
I know that you have mentioned upon more than several occasions that Irving Kaufman was able to deviate from his customary acoustic manner of singing, and show a more restrained, subtle, and "mellow" side. Thank you for sharing yet another example of this.
I'm sure that the chuckle-headed haters who continue their narrow-minded diatribes against some past method of singing that they personally just don't like and stereotype performers accordingly still won't get it. They show contempt for the music by doing so instead of embracing peculiarities that are of the period, and ultimately beyond our control.
Thanks to Nick for alerting me to the exstence of these articles.
May 11, 1924. The perfect man. He has Bix Beiderbecke's smile. But I suspect that this is not THE Bix, but Bix's brother, an eligible bachelor in Davenport in 1924.
On Mar 7, 1927, Miff Mole's Molers (Miff, Red, Jimmy Dorsey, Arthur Schutt, Dick McDonough, Joe Tarto and Ray Bauduc) recorded Bix's immortal composition Davenport Blues. As you can hear, it is an excellent version. Ends with the Geechie call. See note 1.
The Aug 8, 1927 issue carried an ad for Miff's OKeh recording of Davenport Blues. You could buy it for 75 cents.
Note 1. The so-called version by the Molers in youtube is, in fact, by Red and Miff Stompers.
Enrico correctly identifies the Red and Miff Stompers version he uploaded.
Bill Barnes, leader of the Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Band, died on Dec 3, 2013 at age 79. He was born in Amityville, Long Island, about 25 miles southwest of where I live. Bill was instrumental in the birth of the Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival. Details are given in
Bill's obituary in the Orland Sentinel is found here.
The BBMJB played in Oakdale cemetary at the 2011 Bix Fest. JazzmanJoe has a video of the complete event. See
Bill was the recipient, shared with the late Bill Donahoe, of the Bix Lives Award, a highly deserved honor. All Bix fans owe a debt of gratitude to Bill for his key role in the establishment of the Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Sociey.
RIP, William "Bill" H. Barnes!
I was sad to hear of Mr. Barnes' passing. I was thrilled to see him, a founder of the Bix Memorial, at the 2011 Festival and remember well his playing at Oakdale that year, 40 years after the first memorial observation. He seemed to enjoy being there tremendously and it was quite an emotional occasion for me.
I'm looking for songs that celebrate the end of Prohibition - Repeal of the 18th Amendment came into force on December 5th, 1933. On December 5th, 2013 I'm playing music for a "Repeal Day" party. So far, I've come up with two:
"Tappin' the Barrel" (copyright Dec. 4th, 1933!) (Jos. Young - Ned Washington - Victor Young) From Lew Leslie's Blackbirds of 1934
"Cocktails For Two" (1934) (Coslow & Johnston) from Murder at the Vanities - and Spike Jones, of course.
There must be more on this theme, considering the collective relief at the time.
How about Cab Calloway's Jitter Bug?
And it would appear that in 1934, Lew Brown penned the English lyrics to what would become known as Beer Barrel Polka. Coincidence? Perhaps....
Well, there's the Bessie Smith cover of "Gimme a Pigfoot (and a Bottle of Beer)," and Hoagy's "Old Man Harlem" has an implicit hangover. You could borrow from 1930 with "Hittin' the Bottle" and 1932 with "Pink Elephants."
And apparently the published sheet music for "The Beer Barrel Polka" came out in 1934 (as something called "Wasted Love," heh).
Then of course you could do a rousing chorus of "Happy Days are Beer Again" in a pinch...
One for My Baby (And One More for the Road), Arlen and Mercer. Not from 1933.
Clarence Williams. Recorded in 1933: Beer Garden Blues
The Missourians. 1930. Prohibition Blues.
The title song from the 1933 Universal musical "Moonlight and Pretzels" (composed by Jay Gorney w/ lyrics by E.Y. Harburg). I don't think it was ever recorded (and I've never come across a sheet music copy of it, either), but the film is around and it's performed very effusively in it, too!
I have a listing for this record...I don't have a copy, sorry to say
GUS STECK CHANTICLEER ORCHESTRA
The Gus Steck must be a rare one; I've never seen a copy!
Here's sheet music of the title tune, from my collection:
The lady on the right looks like an inspiration for the showgirls in the "Springtime for Hitler" number in "The Producers"!
"Repeal the Blues" (comp. Johnny Green, 1934) - peripheral, but I like that word "repeal" in there! (Here's a link to the NMDO 1934 record - not "1939" as the YouTuber had it; sheesh..):
"Poppin' the Cork" (comp. Benny Davis and James F. Hanley, from an Educational short w/ Milton Berle called "Poppin' the Cork") - recorded by Sid Peltyn for Bluebird in '33; here's a YouTube of that Bluebird w/ a Dick Robertson vocal):
"A Little Beer, a Pretzel and You" (Harry Pease & Ed. G. Nelson, 1933) - recorded on Victor by the "High Hatters", actually a Sid Peltyn group, w/ vocal by Jim Harkins. And, here's a YouTube of THAT one:
Try "Franklin Roosevelt's Back Again". Clearest version by New Lost City Ramblers. Original is from '36, and both available on YouTube. Good luck Brad. Sounds like a fun idea. I'll work on lyrics for "Volstead is a Jar Head" and pass them along anon.
"Pink Elephants" is a song of 1932, I think, and considering that its subject is severe intoxication, it must have been daring for that time. But did it become more of a hit in '33, when admitting to alcoholic hallucination was at last legal?
The song was written by Mort Dixon and Harry Woods, and Harry certainly drank what he was talking about. You will remember the famous story of the lady who entered a nightclub and saw Harry on the floor, pummeling the heck out of some luckless antagonist. "Who is that horrible man?" cries the lady. "Oh, that's Harry Woods," comes the reply. "He wrote 'Try A Little Tenderness'."
I'm off to the gig in an hour. Those are all great suggestions, especially "Repeal the Blues" which will be included in the mix tonight.
I made a special play list of numbers that would have been popular on or just after December 5th, 1933. Some amazing songwriters were busy that season:
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
Cocktails For Two
Tappin' the Barrel
Annie Doesn't Live Here Anymore
Something Had to Happen
What is There to Say?
Did You Ever See a Dream Walking?
April in Paris (! - I thought this was a MUCH later song..)
A Hundred Years From Today
Drop Me Off at Harlem
Got the Jitters
Your Mother's Son-in-Law
Keep Young and Beautiful
Orchids in the Moonlight
You're Such a Comfort to Me
Let's Fall in Love
Everything I have is Yours
I Found a New Way to Go to Town
The Day You Came Along
Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?
Doin' the Uptown Lowdown
It's Only a Paper Moon
By a Waterfall
and the massively popular
Happy Days are Here Again
Drinks are on me! Enjoy Repeal!
[Hic!] 'Ssshhhcuse me!
Ten mentions. Nothing earth-shaking.
1. Kaufman and Bix. There Ain't No Land Like Dixieland, There's A Cradle in Caroline, Just An Hour of Love. I'm Wondering Who. "Kaufman on Mar 3, 1928 provided vocals that today interest Beiderbecke fans: Oh Gee! Oh Joy, Why Do I Love You? No commitment as to whether Bix plays in the last two sides. Just of "interest."
2. Lanin and Bix.
3. Whiteman's "Why Do I Love You?"
4. Eddie King and Goldkette.
5. Nat Shilkret and Whiteman.
6. Bix, Tram and "Singin' the Blues."
7. Again Whiteman's "Why Do I Love You?"
8. Whiteman, Bix Tram, Venuti, Lang, Crosby.
9 and 10. Bibliography and index.
With the exception of the November, 1924, sessions with Goldkette, the rest of these citations sound like events that occurred after the author's 1925 cut-off date.
.... in connections with other topics relevant to the dates given. For example, the mention of the sides with Kaufman are part of a fairly detailed treatment of Kaufman recordings. Similarly for other mentions.
Most of our auditory sightings of the Geechee call have been from Jazz Age recordings. But it seems the venerable lick is alive and well into our own time.
I chanced upon a 2004 live recording at a New Jersey Jazz Society event in which Kenny Davern reproduced the call clearly and elegantly as he soloed on "Am I Blue," at 6:19-6:22 and again at 4:38-4:42.
The Call Lives!
The Jack Stewart article linked in the above Nick LaRocca thread got me to wondering about how the various early "blues" records sounded--not the vocal blues by female singers starting in 1920, but instrumental and dance band pieces.
Here's a cataloging of 1914-16 blues pieces:
The first Victor master with "blues" in the title is a curious item from 13 October 1905, "Mocking Bird Blues" by the Victor Orchestra. It was unissued and the EDVR provides only "Myers" as an unconfirmed composer name.
Next is "The Memphis Blues" from 15 July 1914. The playing style, as Stewart's research backs up, is far more in the ragtime idiom than what would become jazz.
In the first half of the 1910s, the Victor Military Band was the primary source of dance band recordings for the Victor label. The Six Brown Brothers and Jim Europe also cut dance band sides at this time, but not in the abundance that the VMB did. In the fall of 1916, Joseph C. Smith's orchestra began recording for Victor (with a brief detour to Columbia in the fall of 1917) and by 1919 would displace the Victor studio bands in producing dance music for that label. While Smith isn't much associated with blues or jazz, one of the sides his orchestra recorded at its first Victor session in 1916 was "Money Blues":
Things have loosened up a bit since 1914, but we haven't completely arrived at jazz either. But listen to "Rainy Day Blues" from 1919:
Now, this probably doesn't qualify as outright jazz either, but the ODJB's influence is there. It's one of my favourite Smith recordings.
Wang-Wang Blues. Composed by Gus Mueller, Theron E, "Buster" Johnson and Henry Busse, all members of the Whiteman orchestra. It is also the first recording issued under the name of Paul Whiteman.
Listen to the tune in the LOC jukebox. I like the tune a lot and in particular the solos on trombone by Johnson and on trumpet by Busse.
It's the Blues. Composed by Porter Grainger, Jean Goldkette and George Crozier, recorded on Mar 27, 1924, the first recording session of the Goldkette orchestra.
Listen to the tune in the LOC jukebox site.
Announced in facebook by Josh Ruston and posted by him in youtube. Background music but no dialogue.
All I kept thinking as I watched this, was "....the music of the years gone by."
It is truly a treasure which Mr. Rushton has shared with us.
Like most such affairs, this one was bittersweet. It's good to see the ones who were there, but you were aware of the ones who were not.
From Johnny Green's obituary published in the Oakland Tribune, Jan 13, 1960.
"After graduating, aged 19, Green went to work in Wall Street where, six months later in the 1929 crash he lost the several thousand d o l l a r s earned by his undergraduate piano playing and the arrangements he wrote for the Guy Lombardo, J e a n Goldkette and Paul Whiteman bands. By this time, however, he was getting a return from his first popular song hit, ''Coquette," which he followed up with such others as "I'm Yours," "Out of Nowhere,' "Body and Soul," and "I Cover the Waterfront."
I looked up Rayno's biography of Whiteman and the only reference I found is as co-author of the song "Coquette," recorded by Whiteman on Mar 2, 1928. The song was written by Johnny Green, Gus Kahn and Carmen Lombardo. Green is not mentioned in the Whiteman archives in Williams College under "Works by composer/arranger."
Here is recording in youtube. Note that Green is not listed as co-author on the record label, Victor 21301!
Not listed in the later release of another take Victor 25675.
But he is on the cover of the sheet music.
Did Johnny Green make arrangements for Goldkette and Whiteman? First time I hear about this. Is it correct?
From the Apr 7, 1994 issue of the New York Times. Dick Cary's obituary.
"Mr. Cary's arrangements were used by many well-known artists, including Jean Goldkette, Benny Goodman and Pee Wee Russell."
From the Jan 30, 1987 isue of the New York Times.
Mr. Charles Fredrick Wolcott was born in Flint, MI in 1907. In 1927, he joined the Jean Goldkette band, playing piano and scoring music for Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey. He became an arranger for Paul Whiteman, Benny Goodman and the Dorsey Brothers.
The Wolcott-Whiteman connection is well documented. But what about the Wolcott-Goldkette and Cary-Goldkette connections?
Hi Albert - many years ago I visited Williams College (at Williamstown, Massachusetts) and its immense Paul Whiteman Collection. At the time the great Carl Johnson was curator of the collection, and I had a long and interesting talk with him. I was able to obtain names of many of the arrangers for the Whiteman recordings of the 1931 to 1934 period, and Wolcott was one of the names mentioned. At some point I can provide the arrangers names for the chronology of the recordings, but will need to have my Rust book in front of me to do (I've entered all this new info in there).
Some of the arrangers' names will be quite surprising, I'm sure!
The arrangements by Wolcott for Whiteman are listed in volume 2 of Whiteman's biography. One of my favorites is "It's Only A Paper Moon." I first heard it in the excellent 1973 film by Peter Bogdanovich. The song was composed by Harold Arlen with lyrics by Yip Harburg and Billy Rose.
is there anybody who can tell me where I can buy the piano sheet from : flashes.
I live in amsterdam the netherlands.
you can mail me.
The sheet music for "Flahses" can be found here:
The following passage is taken from "From Ragtime to Jazz - An Exclusive Interview of Steve Brown" by Frank Gillis. The interview was published in the July 1974 edition of "Mississippi Rag" but it actually took place in May 1953 at Steve Brown's daughter's home in Detroit.
Gillis: Do you have any especially prize stories about Bix, since he's become so famous?
Brown: Bix? Why, his mind was always on music....his mind was never on anything else. He was a typical musician, or a typical artist in that respect, that is, he never gave his appearance much of a thought - his heart and soul was with his instrument. Although I can't say that so well, because I remember leaving one town and going about three hundred miles away to play, and Bix comes on the job without his cornet. So he had to call up and have a cab to bring the cornet. How that happened, I don't know. I think he had a little bit too much hootch in those days. And during the dry days, the stuff that we were drinking....why, it was surprising to see what it would do to you, you know."
Frank Gillis (1914-1999) was a pianist who worked with mainly small jazz groups in Detroit, New York and Minneapolis. He directed the last recording session Steve Brown took part in - Gillis' "Dixie Five" recorded eight numbers on August 17th, 1950 with Steve Brown on string bass.
Later, Gillis was director of the Archives of Traditional Music at Indiana University.
I have a transcription of tapes made by Steve Brown when he was interviewed for the Hogan archives. Here are a couple of comments by Steve Brown. A = Answer. Q = question.
"A. The musicians certainly loved the way he [Bix] played.
Q.What about down here, was there anybody who played Bix's style down her? Before you went up north?
a. No, I can't say that I heard anyone phrase like Bix. Bix had an individual phrasing of his own, so many of 'em claimed that he copied it from this one and that one and some of 'em claimed that he copied from LaRocca, well he may have learned the numbers LaRocca knew, that were recorded, you know. But his phrasing was entirely different. Bix had a different type of phrasing entirely. Very noticeable to all trumpet players. And if they wanted to tell the truth they'll tell you this. It's no copy of anyone, it's an individual phrasing of his own. See, Bix, came from a musical family, too, ah Bix learned how to play piano I think before he played trumpet, I think he knew something about piano before he played trumpet. Ah, and his fingering was ah entirely different from a legitimate piano player's fingering, you know what I mean, Bix learned how to play by ear, and when they learned how to play by ear, and when they tried to ah write the music for "In A Mist," and several other numbers of Bix why the piano players themselves were confused because of Bix false fingering, you know, in order to get certain passages, you know, they tried to copy it, see. But musically, they finally got it down. see, to where it was anyone could play it legitimately. And so is there anything that you would like to ask me right now, that I can't think of myself?
Q. Yeah. I like to ask you about Emmett Hardy, what did he play like or did you ever know him?
A. Emmett Hardy, yeah. Well Emmett Hardy played all right, he played a good instrument, but he ah I wouldn't comparison compare him with Bix. Although he had a style of his own.
Q. I see.
A. And he had, Emmett Hardy, he was more or less around Chicago. And he had a style of his own, too, but ah both of 'em were had good styles and they were liked and ah, but I wouldn't say that ah Hardy phrased like Bix at all.
Q. Do you remember where Hardy came from?
A. I thought Hardy came from Davenport, Iowa [no]. But I am not sure of that. But I thought he did.
Q. You never heard him down around here,
A. No, he wasn't down here then. We ah had Emile Christian down here at that particular time, in fact I started Emile Christian out on trumpet at that particular time.And we had him playing with us for a while and then Tom and Emile Christian got on the ouposts and Ray Lopez took his place."
Fascinating stuff. Clearly, Steve Brown dispells the myth of Bix copying Emmett Hardy.
Bix's unique style came from within, rather than influences from any other players he may have heard. For the young Bix, as a fifteen year old living in respectable Davenport, his first introduction to jazz was, quite rightly, upon hearing the ODJB records brought home by his elder brother Bernie. If he was to have been influenced by anyone it would have been LaRocca. But it's difficult to detect any traces of LaRocca's style in Bix's playing. As most of those early ODJB Victors didn't feature many solos anyway, it would have been the overall Dixieland sound, along with the farmyard effects that fascinated Bix.
Yet from early Wolverine days, through the Gang sides right up to "Strut Miss Lizzie" in 1930, Bix stayed loyal to many of the titles recorded by the ODJB without actually copying LaRocca or anyone else. The beautiful notes, style and tone came from within and nowhere else. As a creative jazz musician this is what made him admired by so many. As Louis Armstrong noted, "You can take it from me, he was a born genius".
Ken Bristow's words remind me of the notable quote by Johnny Wiggs:
"He would sit in front of Joe Oliver's band with Louis in it, enjoy it immensely, yet not one phrase or lick did he ever get from them.
I'm sorry, folks, but the only one I ever heard who did not copy other people was Bix."
Bix, for Pete's sake. You know, I worshipped Louis at that time, tried to walk like him, talk like him, even dress like him. He was God to me, and to all the other cats too. Then, all of a sudden, comes this white boy from out west, playin' stuff all his own [my bold font]. Didn't sound like Louis or anybody else [my bold font].
From an interview of Rex Stewart quoted in http://www.donaldclarkemusicbox.com/rise-and-fall/detail.php?c=6
Radio Program # 217. (loaded on 11/29/2013) Bix's Fellow Musicians: 1920s Recordings of Hoagy Carmichael Without Bix. 60 min 6 sec
Download file http://bixography.com/WBIX217.rm 14.7 MB
Streaming mp3 file http://bixography.com/wbixmp3/WBIX217.m3u
Download file bixography.com/wbixmp3/WBIX217.mp3 47.3 MB
Boneyard Shuffle. Hitch's Happy Harmonists. May 19, 1925.
Washboard Blues. Hitch's Happy Harmonists. May 19, 1925.
Friday Night. Hoagy Carmichael and His Pals. Oct 31, 1927.
Stardust. Hoagy Carmichael and His Pals. Oct 31, 1927.
When Baby Sleeps. Hoagy Carmichael and His Pals. Oct 31, 1927.
The Best Things in Life Are Free. Emil Seidel. Nov 11, 1927. Vocal by Cliff Williams.
Down South. Emil Seidel. Nov 11, 1927. Vocal Chorus.
Together We Two. Emil Seidel. Nov 11, 1927. Vocal by Cliff Williams.
My Ohio Home. Jean Goldkette. Dec 12, 1927. Vocal by Hoagy Carmichael.
So Tired. Jean Goldkette. Dec 12, 1927. Vocal by Hoagy Carmichael.
Walking the Dog. Carmichael Collegians. May 2, 1928. Vocal by Hoagy Carmichael.
Shimmy Shawobble [sic]. Carmichael Collegians. May 2, 1928.
Another great (and glitch-free) episode of WBIX with a compelling premise: Hoagy Carmichael's 1925-28 recordings. Bix may not have been on any of these but his spirit hangs heavy over them, as it does over practically everything Hoagy wrote, played or sang. Not surprisingly, the best tracks are the two sessions under Carmichael's name, the October 31, 1927 session which not only featured the very first recording of "Stardust" (played considerably faster than any other I know of except Louis Armstrong's 1931 version) but also the debut of the song "When Baby Sleeps," which became considerably better known later as "Rockin' Chair." Also fascinating are the two Hitch's Happy Harmonists sides, especially "Washboard Blues," which contains the same piano solo Hoagy later used on the Whiteman-Bix version, only heard here in the middle of the record instead of as an introduction.
The Emil Seidel tracks (which I presume you included because the musicians on the "Hoagy Carmichael and His Pals" date were clearly drawn from this band) are O.K. dance records of the period, with yet more mediocre vocals weighing down the music (how Cliff Williams could have been the band's drummer and shown such a lack of a sense of rhythm when he sang is a mystery to me), but worth hearing primarily for Carmichael's piano solos. (Oh, if they'd only let him sing as well!) The Jean Goldkette "My Ohio Home" still seems to me a surprisingly dull record (and is there any reason why the version heard here is dramatically inferior in sound quality to the one of the same record on WBIX #215?), though Hoagy's audible vocal exhaustion is rather appropriate to a song called "So Tired"!
And as for the last two tracks by "Carmichael's Collegians": you state that six songs were recorded on this date but only two were released at the time. The others survived only on test pressings from Carmichael's own collection. Because of the dramatic difference in sound quality, I'm presuming "Walking the Dog" was one of the original releases while "Shim-Me-Sha-Wobble" (to use the regular spelling of its title) was one of the ones that survived only as a test in Hoagy's collection. One wonders why Gennett didn't release the entire session because this music is GREAT: hard-swinging jazz showing that in addition to all his other talents (songwriting, singing, piano playing), Hoagy was also a fantastic jazz bandleader. And the sound quality on "Walking the Dog" is yet more evidence (like the Alphonso Trent sides collected on the Jazz Oracle CD "Richmond Rarities") that as bad as Gennett's acoustic records had been, their electricals are something else: powerful, luminous, transparent, fully up to the standards of the major labels in 1928. Is there a CD out there containing all six items from this fascinating session?
Thanks very much for the detailed and favorable analysis. I very much appreciate your comments. Until you came into the scene, I had the impression that my programs went into a vacuum to be sucked out into oblivion. Occasionally, some kind soul would send a private message with positive comments, but nothing approaching your detailed essays. Thanks a lot, Mark. All the work that goes into creating the WBIX programs is not in vain.
.... historyforsale.com website. Would you pay $675 for this "signature" of Paul Whiteman?
Hello Albert and Forum -
Here's a posting from the NOLA Defender, a serious online publication that often carries local music news not covered elsewhere. It seems that a bust of Nick LaRocca was being re-dedicated by LA Lieut. Governor Dardenne at the old New Orleans Mint, but the event took a different tack than he intended...
Opinions and views stated are those of the attendees and not mine. We do take our music seriously here, though!
What a fascinating story, going to the heart of the whole racially charged discourse over jazz history. Say what you will about Nick LaRocca's contention that "the negroes learned to play this rhythm and music from the whites. The negro did not play any kind of music equal to white men at any time," LaRocca DID introduce New Orleans music to the wider white audience and he holds up as a quite engaging soloist, certainly the most consistently interesting member of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band's front line. The comment of Earl "Madd Wikkid" Scioneaux that LaRocca was a "crook who effectively created the model for swindling people out of their music" is typical of the hysteria defenders of the line that jazz is exclusively an African-American creation adopt and the lengths to which they will go to deny ANY role for white musicians in the creation and advancement of jazz. The article mentioned Ken Burns' "Jazz" mini-series, which went out of its way to promote the it's-all-Black theory of jazz's origins and creative advancement (not surprisingly given that his principal consultants, Wynton Marsalis and Stanley Crouch, are both major advocates of this reverse-racist view) and tied itself into knots trying to fit Bix into the model. Bix always claimed Nick LaRocca as his musical model, and while Bix was a far more sophisticated musician one can hear the connection between them.
The skirmish over the re-unveiling of the bust of LaRocca would be funny if it weren't so sad. Sometimes you wonder if we humans will ever learn!
Nobody copyrighted jazz. Nobody could, because it wouldn't stand still long enough. Black people took what they could and made music out of it, but white people were right there, loving it and adding to it all along as well. LaRocca's band got to be the first to record "jazz" only because Freddy Keppard wanted to keep it all to himself and refused the chance. The ODJB made it a national music, and Bix fans know what came from that. From early on, black and white people listened to it and took the best from each other to make it better. Jazz belongs to everyone who wants to play and listen, not just black people, not only Americans, but everyone.
Like everything else in human culture, those who helped shape jazz weren't perfect people, but they made great music and we should honor them for that.
When the Duke's drummer, Sonny Greer, averred that "Bix couldn't catch Bubber on his best day" he was expressing tribal solidarity (viz. Marsalis, Crouch et al) rather than artistic judgement. When it came to race, Bix was colour-blind.
Having recently gone thru a book on Italian Americans in New Orleans, by two Louisiana college professors, I was quite surprised by some simple information.
During the early jazz era, they state New Orleans had the highest percentage of Italian Americans living there--of any city in the history of the United States. (Italians had lived in New Orleans from the early 1700's.)
During the pre/early jazz era, (c1900) 80 per cent of the people who lived in the French Quarter were Italians or Italian immigrants. Italian musicians and teachers were everywhere.
These are amazing numbers, and I cannot recall ever reading a jazz history that recognized them.
(U S Senator Mary Landrieu and New Orleans Mayor Moon Landrieu are descendants from an old Italian family.)
I don't know how to gauge Nick LaRocca's temperament, nor his bitterness in his later years over his contribution being downplayed, but it could be that he had at minimum, a legitimate point or two in his views. The pre-record era (pre 1917) role of Italian musicians and teachers has not been carefully explored at present. We may never know how crucial their role was. But it must have been significant.
I wonder if someone might someday examine every record made by an Italian musician in New Orleans from 1900-1917 and find out what their musical ideas were like--rhythm, phrasing, tone, etc.
It seems reasonable that once the Original Dixieland Jazz Band hit in 1917 - and they hit BIG - with "Livery Stable Blues" and all that followed - that a thousand bands of all ethnic persuasions in all parts of the country followed their example. There's nothing like a gravy train when you're looking for something good to get on.
A great example of a band that led a simultaneous double life in Ragtime AND ODJB style jazz, that is documented on records, is that of Earl Fuller. Starting in June, 1917, he recorded for Columbia as "Earl Fuller and his Rector Novelty Orchestra." This band had violin, xylophone and other novelty instruments, doing peppy ragtime or "rag-a-jazz." Also starting in June, 1917, he recorded for Victor as "Earl Fuller's Famous Jazz Band," aping the instrumentation and style of the ODJB as closely as possible. This was almost certainly at the behest of the Victor company, who had temporarily lost the ODJB to Aeolian-Vocalion. Both of these Earl Fuller bands were in business at the same time (1917-1919). Point is, the reason Mr. Fuller took on a whole different style and instrumentation while he already was very successful with another is because there was big money in it.
It makes perfect sense to me that in 1917, in the city of New Orleans, which now was getting national attention due to the ODJB, many bands quickly switched to the new model, and even patterned their solo styles on it.
Nick La Rocca - that provocateur supreme - insisted that the King Oliver Creole Band copied the ODJB, and that Johnny Dodds based his clarinet style on that of Larry Shields. Anethema! Blasphemy! - ....but listen to "Alligator Hop" (Gennett 5274) and by golly, there's Dodds playing breaks that sound exactly like Larry Shields.
Both Jelly Roll Morton and Nick La Rocca made big, loud, public claims for their place in Jazz, and were despised for it - all the more because they had solid proof. Music historians have lately cut Jelly a lot of slack for his claims. They should do likewise for Nick.
The complete Jack Stewart article linked in Albert's post above makes a very cogent and convincing case for all this.
It is admirable that research is teasing out all the strands of ethnic contributions to jazz, but we don't want to start any new internecine wars here. The Sicilians (Roppollo and others) might start differentiating themselves from the "Italians," (rather like the Southerners and the Yankees), because there were traditions for each of them. Then how about the French-Spanish contributions to Creole music as opposed to the pure African-American influences? And don't forget the Irish in New Orleans, an assertive group for sure. Then there was the Swiss Brunies family. The Swiss don't get much ink in jazz lit either, but they were there.
Moving out of New Orleans into jazz in the rest of the country, look at the contributions of Jewish players. It was huge! And how about the rest of us just plain American mutts--mixtures of English, Irish, Scots, Germans, Caribbean blacks, and those other French who settled in the middle Atlantic, hybrids like our guy, Bix Beiderbecke, whose musical mother was Irish? Look at the band personnel and you'll see that blend!
Jazz had a lot of creators and they all deserve to be made known, but Albert Haim is right: some things are just "in the air," out there for anyone to play with. I like the quote, allegedly said by Armstrong to Teagarden, which went something like this:
"You an ofay, I a spade. Let's blow!"
They used the same instrumentation and tried to sound just like the ODJB.
This reminds me of the fact that in Sudhalters "Lost Chords, the "bible" of white musicians and their music, the italian dominated group Original Indiana Five (live on youtube with Clarinet Marmalade!) is only mention in a small footnote. Why?
The Original Indiana Five are one of the groups in "The Fabulous Five" by Horst Lange.
The "six big fives" of early white New York Jazz; a full discography of the
Original Dixieland Jazz Band
Earl Fuller's Famous Jazz Band
New Orleans Jazz Band
Original Memphis Five
Original Indiana Five
One of the recordings, Moten Stomp, from their last recording session; terrific stuff. In one section, they sound a bit like the Five Pennies.
And one from their first recording session, Slow Poke, as the Original Syncopators.
Since as far as I know all the musicians were New Yorkers, why did they use "Indiana" in the name of their band? I guess in the early 20s it was fashionable to use names of states or cities to make the bands sound more interesting: think of the Original Memphis Five, a bunch of New Yorkers who had nothing to do with Memphis.
The Original Indiana Five had an engagement in the Cinderella Ballroom in late 1925. Here is an ad from Variety.
And here is a review by Abel in the Feb 10, 1926 issue of Variety.
In the same issue, a short account by Jack Stewart of his thoughts on the subject of the ODJB place in history. The complete article is found in
The ODJB contribution is crucial in the development of jazz. Just one example: Bix Beiderbecke learned to play cornet and became a professional musician because he listened to the early recordings of the ODJB. Red Nichols also listened to the early recordings of the ODJB as, I am sure, many other future jazz musicians did. Did the ODJB invent jazz? Of course not. Neither did Jelly Roll Morton. Like many changes in the evolution of human endeavors (music, art, architecture, science, etc), changes are "in the air." At a certain point in time, a catalyst promotes the crystallization of the new approach in a form that becomes widely known and influences the future. The ODJB were not the creators, but certainly they were the most important catalytic agents for the wide spreading of jazz in the world of music.
Jazz rhythms were around long before the members of the ODJB were even born. No individual musician or orchestra can lay claim to inventing jazz. The rhythms that originated in Africa and were brought to the plantations in the deep South and jazz developed along with musical influences from Europe and elsewhere. Eventually it was to evolve into America's one and only art form. After emancipation, the first black people to enjoy a better standard of living were those entertainers, singers, dancers and especially musicians who made it entertaining the white folks. And those folks liked what they saw and heard. They were hearing new sounds for the first time and that famous "Melting Pot" was well on its way and by the beginning of the 20th century, captivating first the United States and then, after the end of world war one, thanks to the new technology of the phonograph and radio, the entire world. It was the start of the Roaring Twenties and jazz had come of age.
In an interview conducted by Frank Gillis in 1953, the bass player Steve Brown recalled the type of music that was played by white musicians in New Orleans during the early years of the 20th Century. Several passages are reproduced below:-
Brown: In the very beginning of this so-called jazz craze, around 1905, the bands down in New Orleans were known as ragtime bands. My brother Tom Brown and I organised a band, a dixieland combination, which was very successful in being engaged in all the exclusive places around New Orleans. At carnival time we enlarged the band to a brass band which secured quite a number of prizes in parades. In a brass band, instead of playing string bass I played tuba.
In the dixieland combination we just had five men, sometimes we had six. We used no pianos. The bands didn't have pianos in those days. When they came up north they had pianos, but we bought a guitar player along for accompaniment on jobs because half the places in those days didn't have a piano.
We were considered very good. During that time, around 1905 up to 1913, (Nick) LaRocca and (Larry) Shields used to come around and listen. In fact, LaRocca used to sit down and play alongside of us to get the general idea of how we played....
I left my brother's band in 1913 in New Orleans, and shortly after I left them, they came up to Chicago. My brother's band was the first one to come up to Chicago.
Gillis: What about New Orleans in about 1905? I know that the negro bands used to play for functions like parades and funerals and things like that. What did the white musicians do at that time?
Brown: Well, the white musicians played a lot of clubs at Lake Pontchartrain, exclusive boat clubs. In fact, we had the cream of the work down in New Orleans. We played for all the prize fights. We played for Wolgast, we played for Rivers, and Jeffries, and quite a number of great, known fighters that came down there. We used to play at the ringside, in between the rounds. We received good money for all that. And then we played dances, and dance halls. We had steady jobs. We played three or four nights a week at a dinner place and then we'd play the rest of them in single engagements in different places....
In those days, they would have a balcony out in front of the dance halls. It was a custom for bands to go out on this balcony and play, to let the crowd know what type of music they had. And if it pleased them they'd all come in, see. Sometimes we'd play at a place where they'd be three or four places of like character, and each band would get out there and blow their brains out in order to get the crowd in, see. Sometimes we'd stand right out on the street and get a crowd around us....
Down in New Orleans, there's always rhythm. Seems like everything has rhythm. You can sit down along the Mississippi River, and it just runs along in a rhythmic manner. You can see the logs that are floating, bobbing up, and they seem to bob up in a rhythmic manner."
Gillis: Did the white and the negro musicians ever play together?
Brown: Oh, no!
Brown: Oh, no! Oh, no!
The following is from another article on the subject (the author's name is not given). The original article can be accessed at:
"While sheet music continued to be an important medium for the spread of new music, phonograph records were far superior, capturing almost every nuance of a performance and conveying aspects of playing style that were essential to jazz but difficult to write down.
The records made by ODJB were extremely influential in spreading jazz throughout the nation and the world, but they also had an important impact on musicians back home in New Orleans. An advertisement by Maison Blanche (a local department store) affirmed that these records promoted all New Orleans music and were a model for further development: "Here is positively the greatest dance record ever issued. Made by New Orleans musicians for New Orleans people, it has all the swing and pep and spirit that is so characteristic of the bands whose names are a by-word at New Orleans dances." Furthermore, despite the impact of segregation, the records appeal transcended the color lines. Louis Armstrong was known to have collected the ODJBs records. Violinist Manuel Manetta recalled being let go by one of the Citys most successful bands because "Joe Oliver and Kid Ory wanted to follow the format of the Dixieland Jazz Band and use only five pieces."
The success of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band through the medium of phonograph recording completed a revolution in dance and instrumentation begun in the 1890's by Buddy Bolden and fathered some two decades earlier. This standardized the jazz band lineup and demonstrated dramatically how recordings could be used to promote the music."
Gone today and tomorrow. I will check for postings from time to time.
I will tell you only about Monday night. We went for the first time to the Iguana, the new venue for Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks. The place was packed and for good reasons. If you have not seen and heard Vince's band in a live setting, you have missed one of the most joyful experiences in life.
- The music. I always use the word "versatile" when I refer to the music played by Vince and the Nighthawks. You name the style and they play in the most authentic manner: dixieland, big band jazz, hot dance band music, sweet tunes, novelty numbers, etc. Every interpretation is as fresh today as it was in the 1920s and 30s when it was first played. If you close your eyes, you would think that you are in the Graystone Ballroom listening to the Jean Goldkette Victor recording orchestra or in Roseland listening to Fletcher Henderson and his orchestra! The musicians are all excellent, both in the ensemble work as well as soloists as their turns to shine come up.
- The leader. Vince is a first-class multi-instrumentalist, a very knowledgeable jazz historian and an active collector. Before the band plays a number, Vince provides fascinating historical context, the names of the composers and other relevant information; he does this not in a dry, boring professorial manner, but in a light-hearted, informal and humorous manner. In addition, he makes a point of visiting the people in the audience: old friends, habitues and newcomers, and he interacts with all in a friendly and relaxed way, a really genial host. He is, as the Spanish say, a very simpatico man. Vince moves the proceedings so smoothly that one tends to forget how difficult it is to play the arrangements of the 1920s and 30s, and the three hours (with a couple of short intermissions) go by before you realize that it is time to go home!
- There are always interesting people in the audience, and Vince makes a point of introducing them to the audience. If I may blow my own horn, Vince is always very generous in mentioning the Bix Beiderbecke website as a useful resource and its webmaster. On Monday, one of the members of the audience was the Vitaphone specialist Ron Hutchison. I had a chance to sit with him and his table mate (see below) for a while and talk about Bix and Whiteman. Guess what? Sitting at the table with Ron was forum contributor and Getty Images film researcher John Leifert. It was great to meet John in person. And eat your heart out, Hal Smitth. Vince invited John to be a guest vocalist for one of the numbers the band played. Your wife has good taste, Hal: John is indeed a very good singer.
In short: anothe night to remember. If you ever have a chance to be near New York City, by all means take an extra day on a Monday or a Tuesday and visit Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks at the Iguana: I guarantee that you will spend one of the most enjoyable evenings of your life.
Yes, last Monday was another superb evening at the Iguana listening to Vince and the Nighthawks, but I was delighted to finally meet Albert in person (wearing a Bixian bow tie, a la the Wolverines Gennett session !)
I was very pleased to tell him in person how much I've enjoyed this Forum over the years, and how much genuinely NEW and vital information is revealed within its portals. I always look forward to the opportunity to somehow contribute to this lively and informed conversation. Many more years of success to you!
The last twenty years of my life as a professor I wore a bow tie to class. When students went to the chemistry office to make an appointment to see me, they often could not remember my name and told the secretary I want to see the professor with the bow tie. And I always wore a jacket and dress pants. Nowadays, professors go to class wearing blue jeans and no ties!
.... the Jean Goldkette orchestra in Chicago beginning in 1928. There is a bit of info on Stokes in
Also an article about him in the Kansas City Star of Nov 27, 1927.
Harold Stokes co-composed with Frank Trumbauer the tune Announcer Blues. Here is the Whiteman recording.
Ottolini's Sousaphonix features a dozen extraordinary musicians, a miniature universe of instruments including toys and imagination galore. "Bix Factor" is his music for a science-fiction tale (he's a co-author) about a virus spreading among people who listen to bad TV music. There is one antidote: the sweet sound of Bix Beiderbecke's horn. (Born in Iowa, Beiderbecke played cornet in the Paul Whiteman Orchestra with singer Bing Crosby. He died tragically and has been mourned and mythologized ever since.)
Ottolini's arrangements both respect and plow under early jazz with humor and precision. The Jazz Age is his musical hallucination. You can see Sousaphonix at Orvieto on YouTube videos. For a creative illustrated video of "Working Man Blues," visit here. Have a sip of absinthe and listen to "Bix Factor" on this JazzSet.
Vanessa Tagliabue Yorke, vocals
Stephanie Ocèan Ghizzoni, vocals, voodoo rituals, washboard
Vincenzo Vasi, vocals, theremin, toys
Paolo Degiuli, cornet
Guido Bombardieri, clarinet, sax alto
Dan Kinzelman, tenor sax, clarinet, bass clarinet
Paolo Botti, viola, dobro
Enrico Terragnoli, banjo, guitar, podofono
Franz Bazzani, piano, Galvan liturgical harmonium with pedals
Danilo Gallo, double bass
Zeno De Rossi, drums
"Changes" (Walter Donaldson)
"The Working Man Blues" (Ottolini)
"Bei Mir Bistu Shein" (Jacob Jacobs, Sholom Secunda)
"Lord (Lawd), You Made The Night Too Long" (Sam M. Lewis, Victor Young)
All music arranged by Ottolini.
Fascinating set list, even though "Changes" is the only song on it actually recorded by Bix!
In the August 24, 1932 issue of the French newspaper "Le Temps,"Monsieur Henri Malherbe has a devastating criticism of Robert Goffin's "Au frontieres du jazz." According to Monsieur Malherbe, Goffin classifies jazz into two types: straight and hot, that is, direct melodic jazz, faithful to the text it must interpret and the hot improvised according to the dream of the given theme. Goffin despises the practitioners of straight jazz, among them, among others, Paul Whiteman, Ted Lewis and Jack Hylton. According to Goffin, the great practitioners of hot jazz are Louis Armstrong, Red Nichols, Jimmy Dorsey and his brother Tom Dorsey, Frankie Trumbauer, Adrian Rollini, Miff Mole, Earl Hines, Duke Ellington, Eugène-P. Sedric, Venuti et the late Bix Beiderbecke.
Eugene P. 'Honey Bear' Sedric, American jazz saxophonist and clarinetist (born June 17, 1907, St. Louis, MO, USA - died April 3, 1963 New York, NY, USA). Son of ragtime pianist Paul "Can Can" Sedric.
From the Jul 15, 1927 issue of "Le Figaro," a very popular and respected French newspaper:
(My translation) "Dance lovers have a choice of several jazz numbers, all very well done. I will cite among others, No Foolin' and Lulu Belle by Paul Whiteman and his orchestra, remarkable by the quality of the sound; I'd Rather Be the Girl in Your Arms by Jean Goldkette and his orchestra with very amusing instrumentation."
Lulu Belle http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SGZDewxLh_M
Very interesting arrangement by Ferde Grofe. The first recording with Whiteman of trombonist Boyce Cullen (shared a villa with Bix in Laurel Canyon, LA in 1929).
This comes through the courtesy of Nick. Thank you very much, Nick. Fantastic discovery. Not only the article itself, but it adds to Bix's chronology. Evans and Evans chronology gives:
April 22, 1927. Indiana University Junior Prom.
April 29, 1927. Penn State Prom.
With the article you discovered, we now know the whereabouts of Bix on April 28.
The Grand Commandery, Knights Templar are a branch of rhe Masons.
An amazing coincidence!
Ritz Ballroom, Bridgeport, CT, from the Bridgeport Telegram, May 9, 1927.
Pla-Mor Ballroom, Kansas City, from the Kansas City Star, Nov 20, 1927. This is the post-Bix Goldkette orchestra.
My favorite Bix-Hoagy recording
The record label:
The original work sheet, from the IU Collection by Stuart Gorrell
On Dec 12, 1927, the post-Bix Jean Goldkette orchestra recorded a couple of sides with Hoagy on cornet, piano and vocal. Here are the labels of the records.
In My Ohio Home Hoagy is not identified by name.
In So Tired Hoagy is identified by name, but his last name is misspelled.
Hoagy had to have had quite a bit of charm to do what he did, so I guess Charm-ichael was apropos.
An interview of the producer.
A work in progress of the documentary.
Friday, November 22, 2013 7:00 p.m.
Did anyone see it? Comments?
Yes, a lovely song and a beautiful recording, but, for whatever the reason, it would be interesting to know why Hoagy gave the first solo to Ray Lodwig and not Bix, none of the band of course being aware at the time it was to be sadly Bix's very last appearance in a recording studio.
.... straight trumpet solo and an improvised trumpet solo in the same recording. There are examples in Whiteman's output: Busse-Bix.
The Love Nest. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qgCAN5SDslg
Carmichael had a lot of talent in that band and seemed to try to apportion the playing time as fairly as he could. Bix was his "closer,"* as shown in "Rockin' Chair," where he later wrote that he gave it to Bix to improvise the ending, except for winding it up to fit Joe Venuti's final two notes. Similarly, he depends on Bix for the leadoff and the rideout on "Bessie Couldn't Help It." I believe his thinking was the same on "Georgia," and it turned out that Bix nailed it.
*Ken Bristow, "closer" is a baseball term for a dependable relief pitcher who comes in late in the game, to preserve the win for his team.
"But Mother remained solidly for Hoagland Howard Carmichael. The name won, and so did the nickname. However, Mother never called me anything but Hoagland."
(H. Carmichael, Sometimes I Wonder, pages 6-7)
Test. Please ignore....by
Testing posting on this forum for one of your users who cannot post.....
Their postings are not public until I approve them. All that part works well. The problem is with my answers to postingsI cannot answer to postings. But new postings are accepted and become public. See next example.
Let me try to answer to another post. I will report.
Let me try another thread.
I'll try another.
Some of the Hottest Trumpet Ever?
Happy Birthday to Tommy Dorsey -- born November 19, 1905.
On this 1937 recording, Pee Wee Erwin is the trumpeter at the start -- but not at the finish! The last ensemble chorus has no trombone, but rather, an unmistakeable Tommy Dorsey playing some absolutely wicked trumpet! Also, notice the trombone solo--according to Brian Rust, it is actually TD playing bone with a trumpet mouthpiece. I suppose -- if that is true -- that is what accounts for the intense, compact sound.
Almost three minutes of Tommy on trumpet playing Tiger Rag.
On Nov 10, 1928 Tommy Dorsey waxed two sides in the OKeh studios in New York City. He was a trumpet soloist and was accompanied by Eddie Lang (g), Jimmy Williams 9sb), Stan King (d) in Tiger Rag.
For the flipside of OK 41178, It's Right Here for You, Tommy also had Arthur Schutt on harmonium. Listen
Five months later, on April 23, 1929, Tom Dorsey and His Novelty Orchestra (Eddie Lang, Frank Signorelli and Stan King) recorded two numbers playing trumpet: Daddy, Change Your Mind and You Can't Cheat a Cheater.
Tommy was Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: mellow, restrained on trombone and a wild man on trumpet.
a great under rated songhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mqx8c5fkJs
YES!! A marvelous song -- Matt Dennis? Should the title actually be "Whom can I turn to???"
...is sung by the grammatically correct Howard Dulany in the excellent Gene Krupa recording of this great Alec Wilder song:
I can just picture Molly Ryan singing this (if she hasn't already!)
john your my wives favorite singer. i'm not kidding, she says no one sing between the devil and the deep blue sea better then you .her all time favorite record.
I'm very happy to hear that! I don't sing too often these days, but whenever I can I jump at the chance. (Hal is referring to the VG & the Nighthawks "Cotton Club" album on which Vince and I sing).
BTW would enjoy talking with you again; I still have the same home phone and am usually home on Saturday and Sunday mornings.
i got a few new phones in the past couple of years and lost all the numbers stored in them. if you can e- mail the number at email@example.com i'll appreciate it thanks hal
Don't forget the vocal by the wonderful Edythe Wright!
That was a superb Clambake Seven side Dave Sager posted; if I HAD heard that, it was so long ago that the memory of it had faded. Absolutely right that TD plays red hot trumpet near the end of the side. It's funny how Edythe inspires either love or hate, for some weird reason, but I've always enjoyed her singing; sort of a combination of blase-ness and warmth that is somehow very appealing.
The first Clambake Seven disc I ever found (actually, my father found it in a junk shop) was the scroll victor of "The Music Goes 'Round and 'Round" - I still have it. Great fun! I've never heard a Clambake Seven I didn't like - and it was the best with Bud Freeman present. You can never go wrong with Bud Freeman.
i am just listening to a very goof play on the BBC RADIO 3 called Bix: Singing The Blues by Robert Forrester about a fictionalised meeting between Armstrong and Bix.
It's very good and might still be available on line if you missed it.
I found the "conversation' between Louis and Bix grotesque, ludicrous, repulsive.
To think that I rushed home from a gig to hear this garbage !! Whoever did the "research" wants putting up against a wall and shooting . I daresay this must have seemed like a "good idea" to some young uninformed scriptwriter. As I continued, against my better judgement, to listen I felt like bursting into laughter several times. The concept of Louis Armstrong sounding like a latter day rastafarian and using modern day street jive-speak was so ridiculous. Who, on this planet, has never heard Louis Armstrong speak? Furthermore we were treated to examples of Bix's music that were not in fact by Bix at all; even though introduced as such. I won't go on and on (although I could). Suffice to say that this should never be mentioned again on any Bix related forum, and thus deleted from our collective memorybank.
P.S. There was a lot of racial stereotying in evidence too. I cannot imagine anything remotely like that going on during the 1920s.
Bix was portrayed as a drunkard, child molester, his parents did not listen to the records he sent home, he drinks so much that he pisses in his pants, etc, etc. Why not have Bix talk about what he felt when he improvised his solos, his creative process when composing his piano pieces, the thrill of listening for the first time the recording of "Tiger Rag" by the ODJB, etc. etc. There is so much to tell about Bix's music, a real lost opportunity. A complete abomination. I can't believe that, with all the traditional jazz musicians and Bixophiles in England, the producers did not seek their advice.
Bouncing around on the net last night, I stumbled upon the made-for-TV-movie "Child Star," a biography of Shirley Temple, from her conception to the end of her days at 20th Century-Fox. The whole thing is on youtube:
There is much remarkable about this picture, starting with young Ashley Rose Orr, who portrays Shirley, but I'm cutting to the chase: The period music, by Bill Elliott, which covers 1928 - 1942, is - despite all ravings to the contrary about latter-day re-creations - utterly pitch-perfect. I couldn't believe what I was hearing, starting with the very beginning of the picture. (0:00:00 - 0:02:00
It's 1928, and, in the background, gradually building up from a solo piano, we get a full-scale re-incarnation of the '28 Whiteman band, playing a peppy "Challis" arrangement, complete with solos by "Charles Strickfadden" and "Bix." It's not a transcription, either, but an original tune by Elliott, with a tip of the hat to "Lovable" and "Dardanella." The 16-bar "Bix" solo is sensational, and shows complete understanding of Bix's style.
The music keeps pace with the years, so by 1942, we're hearing pitch-perfect Swing.
So go watch this, already.
You are right, Brad. Very authentic, and I am a stickler for recreations of 1920s music. Who is the guy that does the Bixian trumpet?
...the obvious nod to Davenport Blues. You just failed to mention it, right?
Wow, thanks Brad! Bill Elliott, Professor of Contemporary Writing and Production at Berklee, and leader of the Bill Elliott Swing Orchestra.... I suppose that explains the pitch-perfect Swing. And evidently, Mr. Elliott has more up his sleeve!
Watch Bill Elliott's Swing Orchestra rehearse, with the multi-talented Wayne Bergeron on a soaring lead trumpet (I believe I can hear him on the movie soundtrack too): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WlAK-5QP8Ec
Speaking of Shirley Temple, here is Bill Elliott joining John Lithgow on a children's CD: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUxQ4Pcx7G4
OKeh, just one more for good measure: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mGMJp-5ftwI
Yes, the half-chorus cornet solo has cleverly woven into it quotes from "Davenport," and bits of Bix's improvisations on "Dardanella" and "Changes." Amazingly, it doesn't sound cobbled together, but rather like something Bix himself would have done. As you've pointed out in other posts, Bix "quotes" "Davenport Blues" in a recorded solo or two.
Again, this Whiteman moment - not to mention the solo - is thoughtful and exceedingly well worked-out, considering it's only a background score, not an on-screen feature for orchestra. The rest of the score is just as good. The picture premiered in 2001. Hasn't anyone noticed this in 12 years?
Where are Laura and Glenda, the verisimilitude police?
...(The Internet Movie Data Base), and in the over 40 reviews of "Child Star," there is not a single word about Bill Elliott's background score. I guess the satisfaction of a Job Well Done HAS to be its own reward!
But I'll get a look tonight --
I didn't catch the allusion to "Dardanella," but did catch the "Davenport Blues" touch!
Ohhhhhkaaaay, picky picky picky picky picky Laura -- and sure, the music is swell, there's no doubt about it, but there's Mrs. Temple tap-dancing away in the pink nursery (and hey, weren't little Shirley's brothers TEENAGERS when she was born?!) in a long-skirted dress which was more 1921 than 1928 -- and the hair? Whipping that 1990's coif around like a shampoo commercial. Even middle-aged ladies bobbed their hair by 1928, or wore it up in a curled style which made it look as if it has been cut short. A stylish, upper middle class younger lady like Shirley's mommy -- and she wasn't very young since she had two quite grown boys already -- would have had the latest in dresses and how she fixed her hair.
Well, to be fair, really, once we got well into the 1930's, the hats, hairstyles, skirt lengths and all fashion were right up there in being right with the circa 1935-1940 times, like the music. And the little girl playing Shirley is a remarkable talent, indeed.
Favorite Shirley Temple movie: The Little Princess. Not only because I love the Frances Hodgson Burnett children's novel, but the movie is quite a harrowing social drama, from the cruelly snobbish school headmistress to the lowly scullery maid. (It also provided untold reams of satire fun for my family when they showed it on TV every Christmas Eve in Cleveland during the late 1960's, but that's another anecdote about my much-missed late dad and how he made us laugh.)
Okay, Miss Picky, so Gertrude Temple's hair looks like a Pantene hair commercial. Jeez, go please the world! That's a small cavil for everything else in this picture that came out right. If Venus de Milo had just one zit, I bet you'd send her to the hog farm.
C'mon! If they have the resources to properly research, then why don't they do it? Aren't there a lot of old-timey Shirley fans frenetically tap-dancing along to the TV when her movies are on? They want a movie about their icon to get it RIGHT.
And what fun is life if one cannot grumble and nit-pick about how historical and cultural details of their favorite era is represented? You guys sure do it about MUSIC!
I didn't shoot down their acting abilities or their physical appearances or their sheer talent. I just said at the very beginning of the movie they were in the wrong costumes and hairstyles. Anybody watching old Our Gang/Little Rascals films on TV as a kid would know how people looked back then. . . . which means those folks putting together a cute TV movie.
Let me have my grumpy fun!
Okay, have your fun, already. Far be it from me to sleet on anyone's picnic.
But Laura, I'm so glad, in a movie of this type, that ANYTHING gets done right, I'm willing to overlook many another faux-pas. This Shirley Temple story could have been the worst turkey imaginable. I decided to watch it only out of morbid curiosity. But I was so shocked by the Whiteman / Bix moment at the beginning, that I forgave it everything, including Ma Temple's Toni Tenille hair-do.
I have this habit of seeking out the best in the worst. It affords me great joy to notice something sublime in the midst of mediocrity*. It's the Pony in the Manure Syndrome. You know that old joke? - - Where behavioral scientists experimented with this optimistic kid, putting him in a room full of horse manure? The kid gleefully dove in, flinging handfuls and yelling "Whoopee!!" "What are you so happy about?" they asked. He answered, "Well, with all this horse shit, there's gotta be a PONY in here somewhere!"
* e. g. "Deep Night" by Rudy Vallée and his Connecticut Yankees (Victor 21868)
And just because a movie or a TV show doesn't get it quite right doesn't mean I won't watch it. Some films and programs are absolute dreck, some may be off a bit but still fun to watch; some are so awful that they are great fun as camp. If a film, documentary or program is made in good spirit and kind intentions,hey, we'll enjoy it.
And I don't dispute for a moment that the music was lots of fun in that flick!
But Brad! I think you miss Laura's point a little. You may think the costume and hairdo are trifling details, and perhaps they are.
But it seems to me if they can be so meticulous about reproducing Whiteman's arrangement and Bix's solo, they could find a more authentic dress somewhere and stick a period wig on that actress's head for the few "baby Shirley" scenes, saving her bobbysoxer long waves for later in the film. After all, it was the first real scene in the movie to set the time and place--not a minor thing in the exposition.
It's as if Judy Garland climbed on that clang-clang-clanging trolley wearing flip-flops!
I'm glad you championed me in what I was getting at. I can't help but suspect Brad liked to paint me as this termagant curmudgeon when I'm simply pointing out that if film-makers and TV production companies have the money to research the period culture background a little and "get it right", why don't they?
After all, you guys would all be burned to a crisp if they got the music wrong on any TV program or movie. I certainly know that.
(And I also bet that if a male complained on this site, there wouldn't be nearly the vituperative reaction. I'm not trying to bait you, Brad. But I can't help but notice I get ripped into little shreds whenever I venture an opinion. Coincidence?)
...with my daughter when it was first shown on ABC, back when they used to show period bio pictures as family programming.
I remember seeing such films with John Ritter as L. Frank Baum (much earlier) and Jason Alexander as A.C Gilbert.
Man, I miss pre-reality TV.
Mike Vaudwrey alerts me of a program about Bix. He writes, "10-00 p.m. tonight UK time (GMT) BBC Radio 3 is broadcasting a play called Bix : Singing(sic) The Blues by Robert Forrest described as a fictionalised version of the meeting between Bix and Louis Armstrong in Chicago(July ,1928 I believe). It includes original music composed and played by Iain Johnstone. This is no doubt timed to coincide with the London Jazz Festival which is being extensively covered by the BBC."
Here is the link to the BBC website with additional inflormation and a link to the live broadcast.
Thank you very much Mike.
The myth that "perhaps his [Bix's] greatest tragedy was that he never got to play with the best - because in his view the best were black." continues, unstoppable. I guess Adrian Rollini, Eddie Lang, Frank Trumbauer, Don Murray, Joe Venuti, Steve Brown, etc. were not among the best. Come to think of it, they were lousy musicians. Bix was wasting his talent playing with them.
Towards the end of the program, the character who plays Bix utters the words, "I pissed in my pants."
This is repugnant.
Having forced my way through the entire 90 minutes of this play including the brief documentary bits fore and aft I have to conclude that it is little short of character assassination so far as Bix is concerned. Robert Forrest (I think he has to be the one who is a screenwriter) must have done considerable research to assemble this chronologically jumbled mix of facts, discredited anecdotes, false opinions(e.g. the words put into Bix's mouth re Whiteman) and fiction. A poisonous concoction indeed. Although positive the picture of Louis Armstrong is of course equally distorted. In a brief quote at the end somebody -presumably Mr Forrest - made matters worse by giving a factually correct account of that Chicago summit meeting. My expectations of the play weren't too high but it was much, much worse than I could have imagined..
Don't get me started on the reverse-racist view of jazz history that seems to have become the standard version these days, propagated by people like Wynton Marsalis and Stanley Crouch, that the only truly creative forces in shaping jazz history were Black musicians. What's especially ironic about this myth is that the one time Bix actually recorded with an African-American musician, James "Bubber" Miley on the May 21, 1030 Hoagy Carmichael "Rockin' Chair," they had surprisingly little to say to each other and had virtually nothing in common musically. (To me this is a particularly poignant record in that both Bix and Miley had drunk themselves out of jobs with major bands, Bix with Whiteman and Miley with Duke Ellington, and within a little more than two years after making this record both men were dead.)
I remember seeing the 1959 film "The Cry of Jazz," a particularly nasty and argumentative presentation of the "only Blacks created jazz" case, in which the narrator denounces all white jazz musicians as playing "follow the leader." When I wrote about that film in my movie blog I said that "makes me wonder which Black 'leaders' Bix Beiderbecke, Django Reinhardt, Artie Shaw, Stan Kenton, Gerry Mulligan and Lennie Tristano, to name just a few, were following. (Some racialist jazz commentators make Django a sort of 'honorary Black' because as a Gypsy he had to deal with similar discrimination.) It also ignores the influence of white musicians on Black ones -- like Frank Trumbauer and Jimmy Dorsey on Lester Young and Benny Carter, or Bix on Rex Stewart."
After the page opens, click on the image to make it bigger.
.... popular novel by Fannie Hurst published in 1921. Available, I believe, complete in google books. The complete title is Star- Dust, The Story of an American Girl.
The novel was made into a movie in 1922.
There was also a 1917 short titled "Star Dust," starring Marguerite Clayton.
Sometimes I wonder if Hoagy got the title for his song from the novel by Fannie Hurst.
.."Imitation of Life," the movie adaptation of which I can no longer watch because the ending is just too devastating.
Another interesting connection to Hurst is that she was born in Hamilton, Ohio (1889), the small town within close proximity of the Stockton Club where the Wolverine Orchestra came together. Priscilla Holbrook, contacted by Bix for piano instruction in the winter of 1923, also resided there, and it was through her that Bix was introduced to the music of Eastwood Lane - a source of great inspiration to him from that point onward.
Born in Hamilton, he recorded with Bix in his first and last recording sessions.
An obituary of Leibrook.
An article from April 7, 1924 in the Hamilton paper. Perhaps the only published photo of Bix when he was alive, with the exception of the articles in the Davenport press.
I like your use of "Sometimes I wonder". I think I remember reading that Hoagy's mother, who I believe taight him to play piano, had a job playing piano in the pit for silent movies. If so, there's a chance she saw the movie and, given how close they were, ....
But did you know about Mike Mosiello and His Hot Peppers? Here are two recordings by this group. Andy Sannella on guitar and clarinet.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g1fLCmjykl8 Get a load of the coda. Doesn't it sound like a Five Pennies ending?
Here are the listings:
Vocal, acc. by his Deep River Orchestra: ? Harry Goldfield, t / Chester Hazlett, cl / 2-3 vn / own p / ? Snoozer Quinn, g / ? Mike Trafficante, sb. New York, February 14, 1929.
147845-1 We'll Have A New Home In The Morning Har 870-H, Re G-9376 Re G-6000-9473 are are English Columbia products.
NOTE: Harmony 870-H as PAUL HOWE.
Mike Pingitore, bj, replaces Quinn. New York, April 19, 1929.
148463-2 Head Low Col 1818-D, Re G-9376
And here the listings in the 78 online discography.
|Har 870-H||PAUL HOWE (W.ROBISON)||WE'LL HAVE A NEW HOME IN THE MORNING||147845=1||-||-||2/14/29|
|Col 1818D||WILLARD ROBISON||HEAD LOW||W148463=2||-||-||4/19/29||-|
Note that the musicians listed in Rust are Whiteman musicians!
These two recordings were mentioned by John in http://www.network54.com/Forum/27140/message/1330381253/Article+on+Willard+Robison+in+July+-+August+1951+%26quot%3BJazz+Journal%26quot%3B++%287-8%29
"Unfortunately only one of his really satisfactory recordings ever appeared in
England. This was the Regal "We'll Have a New Home In the Morning" and "Head
Low". These date from the period when he was broadcasting extensively in
America with his "Little Symphony". Robison's Little Symphony, in fact,
consisted of a string quartet, a clarinet (usually Chester Hazlitt) and a
rhythm section. His own piano was used purely as a solo instrument, and a
trumpet was occasionally added. The delightful arrangements were the work of
Bill Challis, and the performances were of chamber music character and delicacy."
Years ago, Norman Field had an mp3 file of Head Low in one of his web pages. It is no longer available. I would like to listen to these two recordings, and I imagine several of you would too. Anyone?
And a question. What were all these Whiteman musicians doing by making recordings with Willard Robison?
From the Radio Digest 1930. I'll try to find the next pages.
It is an Apeda photo!!
Radio Digest, Oct 1930.
Willard Robison who brings the croon songs and spirituals
to listeners throughout the country.
Blues Songs Turn
Dials to Maxwell
House Hour from
Coast to Coast
ARED second hand creeps resolutely
past its black brothers on
the face of an electrically synchronized
clock. The red hand
is ticking inevitably toward a program cue
in the large studio on the thirteenth floor
of the National Broadcasting Company
building in New York. In twentyeighteen
sixteen seconds, says the hand, it
will be 9:30 o'clock. Another weekly
program of Maxwell House Melodies will
be vibrating radio speakers in thousands
of homes from coast to coast.
But only one man in the studio is watching
the seconds as they vanish toward the
"zero" hour. He is the announcer, Alwyn
Bach, who listens through his earphones
and spares one eye for the lights in his
switchboard while he observes the red
hand out of the corner of the other.
For everyone else in the studio, there
is a more absorbing, vital object of attention.
Twenty-three musicians, four young
vocalists, half a hundred guests admitted
by ticket to this sanctum of sound, are
watching a slender, blond young man
who is slouched indolently against a grand
piano by the conductor's stand. He is
Willard Robison, the director, famous exponent
of the syncopated spiritual and
hauntingly harmonized "blues" song,
whose original Deep River Orchestra has
been swallowed up in the enlarged Maxwell
J. HE sixteen seconds pass.
Lights flash in the switchboard. Bach
turns from his announcer's microphone
and drops his handthe gesture signifying
"on the air". With the soothing strains
of "PeacefulValley", one of Robison's
own compositions, the orchestra begins its
program, and. the audience relaxes after its
But Robison, the director, becomes
alert, intense. His interest in the proceedings,
however, is not that of the conventional
director. He doesn't wave a
baton, and his hair remains unruffled. In
fact, he may not move from his piano
during all of the signature song. Only
his attitude of careful listening, or perhaps
a lifted eyebrow in the direction of
the 'cellos, indicates his constant scrutiny
of the performance. For Willard Robison,
who brought haunting croon songs and
spirituals of the Southwestern Negro to
jazz weary New York, belongs to a new
school of radio conductors.
Robison is an ardent student of the
technique of broadcast music. He places
his emphasis on painstaking rehearsals, on
meticulous perfection of the balance of
his orchestrations in terms of their reproduction
on the air.
But let's turn back to the progress of
this program just begun, to this typical
Thursday night concert by Willard Robison
and his Maxwell House ensemble.
First may come a rhythmic spiritual entitled
"We'll Have a New Home in the
Morning", a composition by Robison
whose title suggests that it is a sort of
epilogue to his "Cottage for Sale", the
song which first brought him fame in
New York. Then comes an example of
the new idiom in Negro spirituals, "Aunt
Hagar's Chimin", by W. C. Handy, the
father of the "Blues".
Next, perhaps, the impresario himself
goes to the piano, and leans over toward
the solo microphone which is swung across
the piano-top on a two-by-four plank
studio "set-up" designed especially for
Robison's own crooning style. He goes
into one of his most notable studies in
modernistic harmonies, "Head Low".
Breathing softly into the microphone, he
becomes an old revivalist, busily "rasslin'
with Satan and savin' souls!" Camp
meeting is in full swing after the first few
bars ; traffic is heavy on the sawdust trail.
Then evening shadows lengthen in the
swamplands, lights twinkle in the cabins as
dusk falls in the canebrake, and a song of
lament rises 'from the lowlands. Willard
Robison's orchestra plays Rube Bloom's
prize-winning "Song of the Bayou".
Released from the misty spell of the
Mississippi swamps by the inevitable
"brief pause for station announcements",
heralded nowadays by the melody of
chimes, listeners next hear the voices of
four young men, lullingly keyed to the
strains of "Oh, Miss Hannah". The fact
that they are carefully attired in dinner
jackets, singing into a metal box in a room
with modernistic appointments, fails to
destroy for listeners the atmosphere of
the Deep South. The young men in this
quartet, incidentally, are Victor Hall and
Randolph Weyant, tenors; Ken Christie,
baritone, and Bob Moody, bass.
By way of sparkling conclusion, Willard
Robison may choose as his finale for this
characteristic Maxwell House period a
syncopated medley from a current New
York musical show..
We have to assume that Whiteman had given his blessing to what would otherwise be "wildcatting" sessions if indeed Robison and/or other members of his orchestra, as well as Bill Challis, were involved in the session.
How unusual was this situation?
.... Paul Whiteman in 1925. Whiteman was a supporter of what Robison was doing as a creator of American music. Thus, I am guessing that the use of Whiteman's musicians in Robison's recording was not an example of wild-catting, but it came with Whiteman's approval.
.... of the two recordings.
To my ears, the trumpet player is Harry Goldfield. Chet Hazlett's, who replaced Ross Gorman in the Whiteman orchestra in May 1925, does his terrific work on subtone clarinet. Rust gives Quinn on guitar in the recording of Head Low. There is clearly a banjoist in the Head Low recording, and I am pretty sure that the banjoist is Mike Pingitore. I don't hear a banjo in We'll Have A New Home In The Morning. I believe I hear a guitar. What do others hear?
I love Robison's style of singing and his interesting compositions. These are vocal recordings with interesting accompaniments. Thank you very much, Nick. I appreciate your invaluable contributions to the Bixography Forum.
This version of "We'll Have a New Home in the Morning" is available on Brad Kay's excellent Robison collection (and if you haven't ordered that CD from him, what are you waiting for?). "Head Low" I hadn't heard before, but it's equally beautiful. I love Willard Robison as singer, songwriter and arranger and only wish he'd used Bix on his records more than once! BTW, I agree with Albert's identifications of Hazlett (though it sounded to me like he was playing bass clarinet here) and Pingitore but I have a hard time believing that the marvelous hot trumpet on "Head Low" is Goldfield. (And no, I'm NOT starting a rumor that it was Bix, either!) I also don't think Bill Challis was involved in these records, though the arrangements aren't that different from his work. Robison was an excellent arranger in his own right and I'm sure the scores were his.
There is no date for this photo from the Gennett Records facebook page. This group of musicians made records for Gennett in 1925. Compare with the photo of the Wolverines in the same studio in 1924.
These are, ostensibly, the recordings of "Sugar" by Paul Whiteman with Bix..
It ain't Paul and it ain't Bix either. And it ain't the tune that Whiteman recorded. It is the Red and Miff Stompers recording of another tune by the same name. It is the tune recorded by Red and Tram in a deal they made in Oct 1927.