Monday, February 22, 2016

Bix Insanity

Thursday, March 10th will mark the 113th anniversary of Bix Beiderbecke's birth. I believe that's the Replace All The Wiring In The House You Built When You Were Married anniversary. If you're married for 113 years...well, it was probably just fifty years and seemed like 113. Har, har. At any rate, the reason I'm celebrating Bix on this odd numbered year, is that this one happens to fall on the second Thursday of the month. That means the Southside Aces are throwing a big Bix bash at the Eagles! This will be the first time we've featured the music of that famous Iowa jazz cornetist. I've gone a little Bix insane at the moment. There's piles of Bix recordings all over my house, my Philip and Linda Evans biography is always close at hand, in the last week I've actually written out C-Melody saxophone parts, and I've been firing off emails and phone calls to my band mates demanding extra preparation. If any of them were in my house right now, they'd placatingly pat me on the shoulder and say, "There, there, Tony, why don't you sit down, listen to 'Singin' The Blues' and drink this gin we made in our bathtub last week." The Aces are rehearsing on February 29th. This is significant because herding all six of us together to work things out is such a rare thing that Dave and I have been joking it's our regularly-scheduled Leap Year rehearsal.

But Bix is worth it. I can't emphasize this enough. He only got to spend 28 of those 113 years walking around on the planet—dying in New York on August 6th, 1931—and didn't get around to picking up the cornet until he was sixteen. He may not have started until he was sixteen, but a year later he already writes his teenage love interest, Vera, that he's "having a good time playing for dances in a hot orchestra making piles of jack..." And think of this: his first recordings began just before his 23rd birthday, and he spent most of the last year of his life ill. It was in those five or so intervening years that he would so profoundly affect jazz for all time. 

I'm going to write more about this in the seventeen days before his birthday, so for now I'll leave you with this, one of my favorite Bix recordings. This is like when Erik says, "This is one of my favorite songs. I know I say that a lot, but it's true!" I have twenty favorite Bix recordings. More. This one's just hot, and I don't have to say much about it.