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Singin The Blues - Bix Beiderbecke


The cornet player Bix Beiderbecke died at the age of 28, too early to have been noticed by large public. Yet Bismarck 'bin' Beiderbecke, from Davenport, lowa, of German descent, became one of the early legendary figures of jazz history, even for those who had never heard him play. It is probable that Beiderbecke, who moved to Chicago in the early twenties and who was influenced by Louis Armstrong and King Oliver, was the first white musician who, through his style, pure intonation, flowing phrasing, improvising intuition and perfect timing, was able to inspire black musicians. Bix Beiderbecke's improvisations, in which the harmonic ideas of Debussy can be recognised for the first time in jazz, were in the thirties and thereafter subject to the fruitless controversy about what, 'real' jazz was supposed to be. Although his music is indisputably more influenced by European concepts of sound, and although it is true that Bix Beiderbecke was surrounded by commercial arrangements especially in Paul Whiteman's orchestra - still the denunciation of Beiderbecke and his Wolverine orchestra as sentimental, popular, balladey (Rudy Blash) must be refuted. Such a point of view is a little too dogmatic.
'He was very reticent. His main interest in life was music, it seemed as if he just existed outside of that. I think one of the reasons he drank so much was that he was a perfectionist and wanted to do more with music than any man possibly could. The frustration that resulted was a big factor I think.'
Colleague trumpet player Jimmy McPartland