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am. The A. Very brief preliminary idea of the nature of the experiments being conducted by younger jazz musicians in that same 1941 at which the preceding record was younger musicians like Thelonious Monk Charlie Christian and Joe good
and well they're not on this record Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker. Here is a section of a very informal session recorded after hours at a club house in New York which was sort of a sonic laboratory for these young. As you can hear the language had changed in some quarters
since the idiom of the 20s and 30s but before we can see. Or more accurately hear what these men were trying to evolve in jazz terms in these 1941 experiments there are a number of important areas of jazz history to cover because the development of jazz in the 30s during what has been called the Swing period. And as and as antecedent sources led inevitably to the coming to prominence of such vital influences in the music of our own decade as Charlie Parker Dizzy Gillespie and Bud Powell. There is also a voice of the 20s who must be taken into consideration. One of the voices directly influenced by the New Orleans jazz men in Chicago. And a voice that had something to do with these 1941 experiments by Gillespie and Parker and the others. This man wanted to and did evolve his own jazz style in the 20s more distinctive than that of any of the other Dixie lenders. It was different in some respects from anything he had heard. Some believe it could have led
nowhere or that it was a highly interesting individual sidetrack others say that in the era of the fact that the man died so young in 1931 at the age of twenty eight there is really no telling in what new directions he might have evolved his way of jazz plotting to introduce the story of Leon Bismarck Bix Beiderbecke. Let me read a lighter note by George of Rocky and I read it as written because it represents a kind of nostalgic enthusiasm among many books. I think he and I doze. That while it includes much affection for his music also seems to look back longingly at his hero. The big spider back story writes mystery a vacuum is the great romantic legend of American jazz. It has everything a sensitive young man who just had to play the horn after hours sessions in smoky cellar is gin and enough crazy stories to fill several books. And so the unfortunate thing I might add is that it's legends like this that obscure the fact that buyback was primarily a very sensitive and serious
musician to continue in the setting was just right. Scott Fitzgerald atmosphere with John held illustrations complete to study spirit cats and Raccoon coats breaks out lived in those times but not by much. Like the stock market he was riding high but shaky by 1929. He died on August 7th 1930 won his health shot. And at the age of 28 the standard story of his death which has been printed over and over again is that sick in bed with the cold to get up to go to Princeton for a club date which would have been called off if he hadn't shown he drove down in an open car. The story runs developed pneumonia and died somehow until now no one the present writer included says Mr Obama can ever question the anachronism of the Princeton dance in midsummer. One of Biggs's Princeton fans Frank Norris who had gone to Lake Forest Academy with him 10 years earlier recalls that picks caught a heavy cold and the last of the weekends that spring and never did shake it off but dive of course didn't die of a cold says Norris he died of everything
that he conned into Sorry a great deal of Dick's in 1931 when both were proving that one transparent hamburger a day can keep a man alive confirms that Becks just gave out he was broke ground down living in one stuffy room out in Jackson Heights. He had this cold but you are I was to Conan recalls. Well you anyway could shave off in a few days but with banks it was a case of having to stay in bed. It was the end of July and so hot that he rigged up a couple of fans to blow on the bed two days of that and he had pneumonia but good. So the legend got started faster than the biographer is dead. But before we get into the life story let's consider the big thing. I'm still reading the mystery of OC and fixes horror and it's something that will never quite fade away as long as there's a record around the collectors are really avid about there. I don't there's one in the Middle West who rubber stamps all his letters in capitals Bix lives. I once heard it is a sound you're not likely to forget and the warm mellow cornet. Sometimes with almost no the brothel with all the
attack that was as sure as true speaker going after a long fry. With every note brought out as clearly as a padded mallet striking a chime. This by the way is the non musicological kind of jazz writing. The romantic school the flow of ideas sometimes bursting with spontaneous energy and it always sounding coolly calculated as neatly arranged as though a composer and carefully organized each phrase and then plotted all the little inflections and dynamics. There is always a reserved quality in here Mr. Vyking is quite correct to Biggs as Cornet sounded as though he never quite lets himself go all out emotionally even on a barrel house Dixieland performance like at the jazz band Bon which were avant here. He was one of the most exciting musicians who ever lived but he did get it by the individual many of his tone and the imaginative Inus of his improvisation as well as work was emotionally rich. It was always tempered by a constraint that makes his work same restrained alongside the freedom of the great New Orleans negro musicians such as Louis Armstrong Sidney to Sherry and Johnny
Dodds. Let me forewarn you in this recording as in others will hear that most of the groups with which it was recorded contain musicians of a caliber far inferior to his own. I am I am I am I am. I am I
am. I
am I am. Another perspective of the big legend is provided by Edward J Nichols in the book jazz man Leon Bismarck buyback was born on March 10th 103 in Davenport Iowa the bix was picked up from his older brother who was called that before him. His family are well-to-do lumber people and because his background was cultured and musical. This is a bad break for the legend which would be more romantic at his heritage conform more closely to the novel inspired by by bank young man with a horn which really has very little to do with jazz or Jasmine However imaginatively written but actually his mother continues Mr. Nichols was a student of both piano and pipe organ who at the age of 10 had won a medal for playing on his father's
side there was also musical talent. His grandfather led a chorus of German-Americans and Davenport and his grandmother's father played an organ in Europe. His sister is an able pianist picks himself took at least a few lessons on the piano from a professor grade of Davenport who said the boy responded Well for one who played so entirely by ear. The matter about the air must have been right for Mrs Beiderbecke testifies that Bixby Gann picking out when he was just tall enough to reach the keyboard at the age of three he was playing the air of the second Hungarian Rhapsody. But Freeman The musician from Chicago who played with picks on occasion thinks he had the greatest ear he has ever known. A recent play of Charles brought her back the older brother of banks because this incident from the his early life he had been amazed by his younger brother's talent as a pianist. And when Becks took up the cornet Charles decided to find out if he had any music at least that that kind of a seemingly remarkable musical ability on other instruments so Charles brought a saxophone
and trying to determine himself whether he could play struggled to learn to play it. One day while he was practicing without any encouraging results thinks asked if he could see the instrument he examined it thoughtfully for a moment and was playing tunes on it within a half an hour. Charles never again tried to play any instrument. Thanks never took a lesson on corn any picked it up himself and that's why his playing was unconventional for instance banks never thought of the court as a B-flat instrument. He thought of it as being a whole tone higher that is in the same key as the piano with which he was somewhat familiar. Since violin parts were scored in concert key like piano they could read them better than cornet points so he relied on them from the time he left the Wolverine took us through until he played with Jean gold cat. Another difference in his playing was as heavy reliance on the third valve of the horn. And here again indexes work despite his formalized training such as it was. You find the same thing that occurred in New Orleans jazz men
decide deciding to determine for himself things like thing during. The potentialities of an instrument and thereby getting results that could not have been gotten. In a more academic manner of training. The usual thing of employees the first two hours more than the Third Symphony trumpeter and teacher once wrote the dicks would have to forget all they ever learned by himself and begin all over by taking lessons if he ever wanted to be a cornet. But this wrong technique may account for the easy tumbling flow of some of his most celebrated rapid passages. People often ask why Becks chose the cornet instead of the trumpet. The tambour tone of the cornet is mellow and full bodied closer to the human voice and a longer and smaller bore a drum that dance musicians a favor the trumpet because of its brilliance or Sting and also because it is better adapted to tonguing and to mute playing in the early twenties and a trumpeter who didn't care at least a satchel full of minutes on the job was not modern but the growl the wah wah and other muted
effects irritated Becks. He himself had only one straight mute and rarely used it. He preferred a legato style and the round tone of the cornet rather than the bridge you also potentialities of the trumpet. As to the musicians who were influenced they expressed the controversy which inevitably surrounds a legendary figure is hotly present and the argument continues. His mother says when he was in his early teens he used to wait to see if the family were going out and if they were he would come downstairs sit by the Victrola and play as a cornet along with the music. She remembers him accompanying a recording of Tiger Rag giving Biggs his age the horn would have had to be the Rochas and the band The Original Dixieland Jazz Band yet if they fell into that Dixieland tradition he was brought much closer in freedom of expression to Negro jazz than to loca since Becks never played in a band until he left Davenport. His only outlet was to accompany the phonograph. In addition to the Dixieland Jazz Band records he later played to those of King Oliver either these records over the early presence of
Oliver and Louis on the riverboats of Davenport. Would have given banks the chance to hear a scale tonality which is so strong in his music. He admired them both though he considered Louis a great improvement over Oliver in style and at heart a trumpet player in the riverboats is also said to have influenced Becks. But this whole business of the riverboat musicians is confused as one friend of Beiderbecke who grew up in St. Louis and says that no good New Orleans bands ever got up as far as Davenport. Then at the other extreme is a detailed account of how King Oliver and Louis Armstrong came there on a strike this line both the Capitol and of how Biggs went on board and was even allowed to play the ship's CO. The perils of jazz historiography are endless because of the conflicting memories of contemporaries of men like. However it isn't it isn't sure that there is no doubt concerning the influence of Negro jazz and picks particularly Oliver on Armstrong. Bill chalice who knew very well during the days with gold
Kevin Whiteman. Remembers the dicks named Armstrong and Ethel. While it's common to hear of the effect Bessie Smith had on breaks the mention of waters may sound strange. Yet another friend of the exploiter Beck said Ethel was impressed by her back by her fine dramatic style and her excellent phrasing. She later influenced a singer like Billie Holiday for the same reason though she herself was never in the in the main jazz tradition. But Ethel didn't move back as Bessie Smith did. Whatever the controversy the point is the banks had found his medium the cornet and that is what counts. Kenny Condon In his book we all called it music describes how much Smith did move back. He said that spring of 1924 Bessie Smith came to town we want to hear at the Paradise a better place with the buttons off at thirty fifth in Calumet. The first night Becks turned his pockets inside out and put all his money on the table to keep her singing. We had been raised on
her records we knew she was the greatest of all the blues singers but she was better than any of us could possibly have anticipated. She had timing resonance volume pitch controlled tambour of power. She had everything the setting in which didn't quite live up to its name the paradise. Hunchback played cornet he almost touched Oliver and I'm strong he must be referring to George Mitchell a very able New Orleans musician. Tubby Hall was on drums. The place was small unventilated and yet Bessie rocked it. We heard her saying baby I want you please come home jailhouse blues jazz ball Brown from Memphis town empty bed blues Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out. And the names other songs from her extensive repertoire. When they finally left. We could only mumble one thing. Well we've heard Bessie. We were back that night and every night there after sitting and listening especially leaning on the table
eyes glazed listening to Bessie Smith. What. Was.
This is because his version of the blue was recorded in 1925.
He called it the davenport blues. You know I've been listening to the evolution of jazz recorded series prepared and produced by
Nat Hentoff under the auspices of Northeastern University and presented by the Lao Institute cooperative broadcasting Council. The evolution of jazz was recorded in the Boston studios of WGBH AF am. This is the national educational radio network.
The Evolution of Jazz
Episode Number
Bix Beiderbecke, Part Two
Producing Organization
WGBH Educational Foundation
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program focuses on Bix Beiderbecke, the jazz cornetist, pianist, and composer.
Series Description
Jazz historian Nat Hentoff presents a series that traces the history of jazz, from its musical and cultural roots to its contemporary forms. "The Evolution of Jazz" was originally broadcast from WGBH in 1953-1954, and was re-broadcast by the National Educational Radio Network in 1964.
Broadcast Date
Asset type
Dixieland music
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Host: Hentoff, Nat
Producer: Hentoff, Nat
Producing Organization: WGBH Educational Foundation
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 55-32-17 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:28:17
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Chicago: “The Evolution of Jazz; 17; Bix Beiderbecke, Part Two,” 1954-03-05, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed April 25, 2024,
MLA: “The Evolution of Jazz; 17; Bix Beiderbecke, Part Two.” 1954-03-05. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. April 25, 2024. <>.
APA: The Evolution of Jazz; 17; Bix Beiderbecke, Part Two. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from