Monday, March 08, 2010


O cornetista e pianista de jazz Leon Bismarck Beiderbecke, mais conhecido musicalmente como Bix Beiderbecke, nasceu no 8 de março de 1903, em Davenport, Iowa, e é considerado, por muitos, o maior artista branco do jazz dos anos 20, exercendo profunda influência nos instrumentistas que viriam depois dele.

Beiderbecker aprendeu a tocar a corneta sozinho e aos 18 anos era capaz de fazer música com grupos informais de jazz que se apresentavam nos pequenos clubes em Chicago.

Em 1920 juntou-se ao grupo "The Wolverines", um conjunto de jazz formado por brancos que incluia o saxofonista Frankie Trumbauer e mais tarde um famosos discípulo de Beiderbecke, Jimmy McPartland.

De 1927 até a sua morte, Bix tocou com várias orquestra populares, como a big band de Paul Whiteman. Seu estilo era mais suave e lírico que o de Louis Armstrong e a sua versão de "Singin' the Blues" é considerada um clássico do jazz, enquanto a sua composição "In a Mist", demonstra um conhecimento musical, muito além do convencional para o jazz da época.

Bix faleceu, prematuramente, em agosto de 1931, em Nova York.
Bix plays "Singin' the Blues"
After reading this interesting article, I bumped into on line, I decided to share it with my blog's readers. Hope you'll enjoy it as much as I did. (Humberto Amorim)


Article by Otis Ferguson, "Young Man with a Horn" originally published in The New Republic in 1936 and reprinted in "Jam Session, An Anthology of Jazz" edited by Ralph J. Gleason, The Jazz Book Club, London, 1961. The "Young Man with a Horn" is, of course, Bix Beiderbecke. Two years later, the novel "Young Man with a Horn" was published by Dorothy Baker (Queens House, Larchmont, NY, 1938, 243 pages).

Finally, the motion picture with the same title was released in 1950, with Kirk Douglas starring as the Young Man with a Horn. In the preface to her book, Dorothy Baker writes: "The inspiration for the writing of this book has been the music, but not the life, of a great musician, Leon (Bix) Beiderbecke, who died in the year 1931. The characters and events of the story are entirely fictitious and do not refer to real musicians, living or dead, or to actual happenings."

There is some truth to this statement, but, in my opinion it is quite deceitful. It is true that the background of Rick Martin, the hero of the novel, is totally different from Bix's. But, there are too many similarities between Rick Martin and Bix, as well as other parallelisms that I will list below, for me to accept that "the characters ... do not refer to real musicians". Both Rick and Bix play piano and trumpet/cornet. Rick Martin eventually joins Phil Morrison "who ran the best orchestra of the day".

Of course, Bix joined Paul Whiteman's orchestra, the most successful "jazz" organization of the 1920's. Phil Morrison's orchestra featured a vocal trio and two arrangers; Paul Whiteman had the fabulous Rhythm Boys, the great Bill Challis and Ferde Grofe. Both Rick Martin and Bix were gifted with a genius for music and both were particularly appreciated by their fellow musicians.

Both died before the age of 30 from pneumonia and excessive consumption of alcohol. There are more resemblances. I quote from p. 172: "Rick wasn't the only good man in it (the band) either; there was a fiddler who made you think twice, and a man who blew as good a trombone as you'll hear anywhere in public." Could the fiddler be Joe Venuti and the trombone player Bill Rank? Again, from p. 172: "But when that thin blond boy (Rick Martin) stood up in his place and tore off sixteen bars in his own free style, filling the blank that was allotted to him on the score, it was a surprise forever."

Didn't Bill Challis' arrangements give lots of opportunities for Bix to improvise? Didn't George Johnson tell us that"Bix was a fountain of ideas that were spontaneous, as unexpected to himself as they were to us." Doroty Baker writes in p. 105: "When are you good enough; how do you know when you're right? He went into one of his fictions: some big-time-band leader, Paul Whiteman, like as not, was sitting right out there in the dim hall at one of the tables. Somebody had told him Rick was good and hed' better look him up. So he had, and now Rick was going to play a little something for him, and if he liked it he'd take him on. All Rick had to do was to play, and it had better be good, because old Paul Whiteman didn't come here just because he didn't have anything else to do."

Paul Whiteman had heard Bix play with the Jean Goldkette Orchestra and made repeated offers to Bix to join the Paul Whiteman Orchestra. (In fact, at the invitation of Bix and Bill Challis, Paul conducted the Jean Goldkette Orchestra on August 8, 1927 in Atlantic City) Indeed, Bix's music was the inspiration for the book, but, in my opinion, and as detailed above, Dorothy Baker did no stop at the music.

Dorothy Baker is not a gifted writer: the characters she invents are poorly constructed, the story is unsatisfactory, the relationsips between the characters are strained or unbelievable. However, I must admit to a certain morbid fascination with the book. It must be that I want to read as much as I can about Bix, and although certainly Rick Martin is no Bix, the similarities are too pronounced for me to completely separate the real Bix from the fictional Rick.

The 1950 film, based on the novel, was written by Carl Foreman, produced by Jerry Wald, and directed by Michael Curtiz. Many excellent actors and actresses starred in the film: Kirk Douglas, Lauren Bacall, Doris Day, Hoagy Carmichael, and Juano Hernandez Kirk Douglas plays Rick Martin. Harry James dubs Kirk Douglas on the trumpet.

Two new characters were created for the movie: torch singer Jo Jordan (Doris Day) and piano player Smoke Willoughby (Hoagy Carmichael). In spite all the talent, the film is pretty bad - part musical, part soap opera, part drama. The music, of course, has nothing to do whatsoever with Bix. It is typical 1940's popular/big band music.

Two LP's with music from the film (not a "soundtrack" recording, but recordings of the music from the film, after the film was completed) were issued in 1950: a 10'' LP by Doris Day, Columbia CL6106, and a 12' LP by Harry James, Columbia ACL582.

There is also a 1950 Capitol 10' 78 by Ray Anthony "Theme from Young Man with A Horn". On June 6, 1999, the songs on the two LP's (plus a bonus track) were reissued on a Sony/Columbia CD 65508: "Young Man with A Horn. Doris Day/Harry James.

The songs included are :

0 1. I May Be Wrong (But I Think You're Wonderful) 0 2. The Man I Love 0 3. The Very Thought Of You 0 4. Pretty Baby 0 5. Melancholy Rhapsody 0 6. Would I Love You 0 7. Too Marvelous For Words 0 8. Get Happy 0 9. I Only Have Eyes For You 10. Limehouse Blues 11. With A Song In My Heart 12. Lullaby Of Broadway 13. Moanin' Low.

Not exactly Bix's songs!

Reference . WWW

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