A Red Nichols recording with a Bixian touch

A Red Nichols recording with a Bixian touch

Emrah Erken
Emrah Erken

November 28th, 2009, 9:18 pm #1

I don't like to use the word "influence" when I think about the effects of Bix's playing on Red Nichols. The reason is simple. Red Nichols was such a fine and complete player and if we use the word "influence" it's a kind of reducing his part in early jazz...

However, there was one short period of time when Bix's playing had clearly effects on Red's playing. Spring / early summer of 1925. Sudhalter in his book "Bix, Man & Legend" contains also a discography which is quite interesting from today's point of view. "Doo Wacka Doo" by Marion McKay & His Orchestra is listed as a Bix recording there. Sudhalter points the period of March 11, 1925 to March 16, 1925 out and invite the readers to give further informations about some sessions with Red Nichols (the passage in the discography is about the rumors Red playing with Bix together on a record).

Let's not forget the "Tiger Rag" recording by California Ramblers with Red Nichols (?) (recorded on May 4, 1925) with almost the identical cornet solo that we know from the Wolverines test pressing.

Here is another recording with Red Nichols, recorded a month later, on June 12, 1925:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SyV4xgF0tSo

"Honey, I'm In Love With You" by the Goofus Five is my favorite acoustical recording of the group. It's not available on redhotjazz.

I wouldn't say that the cornet (or trumpet) is Bixian. However, in my opinion, there is that certain Bixian touch in Red's playing.



Emrah

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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

November 28th, 2009, 10:40 pm #2


<span>In Red Nichols own words via Woody Backensto. Reported by Evans and Evans, p. 122. </span>

<span><em>"Bix made a tremendous impression on me, and I'd be the last to deny that his playing had an <strong>influence</strong> [my bold font] on me, but I did not imitate him. We were both "evolving" our styles, and we took inspiration from many of the same sources. Only a person who is musically ignorant finds any similarity between my work and Bix's."</em></span>

<span>Albert</span>
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

November 29th, 2009, 3:37 pm #3


Several distinguished historians/musicians have commented on the influence of Bix on Red.

From "Early Jazz, Its Roots and Musical Development," by Gunther Schuller, "Bix radiated an enormous influence on a large circle of white musicians. The most important of these were the Austin High School Gang of Chicago, with among others Jimmy McPartland (cornet), Bud Freeman (tenor saxophone), Frank Teschemacher (clarinet), Eddie Condon (banjo), Gene Krupa (drums), and the entire circle of Red Nichols, the Dorsey brothers, Phil Napoleon, and Miff Mole."

From "Jazz Masters of the Twenties" by Richard Hadlock, "Finally there is the less important matter of direct stylistic influence. It has been said that in the late twenties, most trumpet players sounded like either Bix or Armstrong. Many like Bill Davison, went through a Beiderbecke and an Armstrong phase before arriving at their own styles. Some tried to combine both from the start. The obvious examples of direct Bix leanings are Red Nichols, Jimmy McPartland, Andy Secrest (who replaced Bix in Whiteman's band) Doc Evans, and Bobby Hackett (with much Armstrong added)."

Sudhalter on Bix's Influence.

Vol 5 of the CD set "Bix Restored" is titled "Newly Discovered Takes and the Beiderbecke Influence." Richard Sudhalter writes in the liners, "This collection attempts to show how widely Bix's way of treating his material spread among those players who were active during and shortly after his lifetime."

With regard specifically to Red Nichols, Sudhalter writes, "Perhaps the best known player of the 1920s to follow Bix's lead was Ernest Loring "Red" Nichols. (1905-1965). Born in Utah, and musically well-trained, he brought to recording and playing in New York a quick wit, immense versatility, and, sometimes, a convincing hot style. His partnership with trombonist Irving "Miff" Mole resulted in hundreds of records, some of them of superior quality. Nichols' version of Bix's style was less emotional, and rhythmically far less varied. Still, he occasionally shines. His lead, for example in Bix's Davenport Blues is broad and authentic. On "Indiana" he has obviously worked out a Bix-like solo in advance and delivers it with spirit ..."



Red Nichols played almost note for note two of Bixs solos from the Wolverines.

 1. Bix's solo in Jazz Me Blues (Gennett 5408) was copied by Red Nichols in George Olsens recording of Youll Never Get to Heaven With Those Eyes (Victor 19405; Bix's solo was transcribed by Olsen's pianist Eddie Kilfeather).

2. Bix's solo in "Tiger Rag" (recorded for Gennett, not issued by Gennett; issued in the 1930s by English Brunswick 02205 and HRS 24) was copied by Red Nichols in the California Ramblers recording of "Tiger Rag" (several labels using pseudonyms, PA 036266, Ban 6049, Dom 4011, Or 984, etc).

It is noteworthy that Nick included, as examples of Bix's influence, both Olsen's and the California Ramblers's recordings in his magnificent CD set entitled, "The Influence of Bix Beiderbecke."

I am a great fan of both Bix and Red. I play Red Nichols's recordings all the time in my WBIX programs. I have emphasized over and over that Red has been unfairly maligned by critics and fellow jazz musicians. In the 1920s, Red was a force of great importance. His recordings with Miff Mole, Jimmy Dorsey, Eddie Lang, Vic Berton, etc, are gems and highly innovative; several of Red's recordings represent milestones in the history of 1920s jazz. The fact that Red was influenced by Bix  by no means must be taken with negative connotations.

Albert

PS I have presented a hypothesis to understand how Red played Bix's solo in "Tiger Rag" in the California Ramblers version of the tune. See my Misissisiipi Rag article

http://bixbeiderbecke.com/copyingbixfin ... rences.htm
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Victor Bronsgeest
Victor Bronsgeest

November 30th, 2009, 4:25 pm #4

I believe nobody is 100% uninfluenced.
Notice the trumpet solo of Ted Lewis Tiger Rag from 1923 and you hear already the fundament of the Bix solo from 1924!
Was Bix impressed, inspired, or influenced by this solo?
Did he just worked out a standard Tiger Rag solo of that time?
And if so, who created that solo?
Or did he just liked (and used) the first notes of the Lewis version?
Anyhow, Bix was not 100% original in his Tiger rag solo from 1924.
But,. so what?
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

November 30th, 2009, 8:01 pm #5


.... was the title of a posting in the forum where, among other recordings, Ted Lewis's "Tiger Rag" was mentioned.

http://www.network54.com/Forum/27140/message/1168525752

It is instructive to compare the solos in Bix's and Lewis's recordings. I did that in the above-mentioned posting. I am doing it again here with shorter pieces of the solos to illustrate any similarities.

http://bixography.com/tigerragtbixplusl ... opiece.ram

a\And even shorter pieces.

http://bixography.com/tigerragtbixplusl ... tpiece.ram

I guess Bix uses in his solo a few notes similar to those in the <em>Tiger Rag </em>version by Ted Lewis, whether by design or fortuitously, I do not know. Whichever, a few notes do not constitute and influence. To me, an influence is not a one-time minor event, it is a long range and continuing effect on the artistic creation of the person who is affected.

Albert
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Victor Bronsgeest
Victor Bronsgeest

December 1st, 2009, 1:23 pm #6

Ad Nauseam??
"ad nauseam" signifies that the topic in question has been discussed extensively and everyone involved in the discussion is sick and tired of it¨
Must be a joke, we never get sick and tired by discussing unsolved Bix related subjects isn't it?

Back to Nichols:
Nichols said he was influenced by Bix.
Of course he was (like I said, nobody is 100% uninfluenced) but he also denies any similarity between his work and Bix's.(Nichols:"We were both "evolving" our styles, and we took inspiration from many of the same sources. Only a person who is musically ignorant finds any similarity between my work and Bix's.")
Perhaps your definition of influence ("not a one-time minor event; a long range and continuing effect on the artistic creation of the person who is affected") needs a completion to be useful in discussions like this. The "long range and continuing effect" has to be "audible" at least IMO. The audible, continuing effect of Bix's way of playing in Nichols work is, to say it diplomatic, not very clear to everyone.

About copying solo's or solo fragments in relation to influence.
We'll never know for sure what Bix motivated to use the "Lewis" solo the way he did.
I quess he just liked it!
So he used the caracteristic structure the Lewis's solo starts and worked it out in a brilliant way. That's all.
Musicians sometimes (in live performances more than on records) play citations from wellknown solo's (sometimes "ad nauseam" . A few times even the whole solo. They do that just because they like it.
Bix's Singing The Blues solo played by Charlie Teagarden was a part of the signature tune the "Three T" played night over night.
They liked it.
Was Charlie influenced by Bix in the way of your definition?
Miff used the "Tin Roof Blues" solo of Brunies in a Memphis 5 record once.
Was Miff a follower of Greorge Brunies?
Certainly not, he just did like that solo.
We can call that influence of course, but in the way of your definition it isn't.
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

December 1st, 2009, 3:34 pm #7


"The audible, continuing effect of Bix's way of playing in Nichols work is, to say it diplomatic, not very clear to everyone."

It may not be clear to everyone, but it is certainly clear to me, and to the musicians/historian I quoted in a previous post. It is certainly audible to Wareing and Garlick who take several pages of their "Bugles for Beiderbecke" book to discuss the influence of Bix on Red Nichols.

I hear Bix's influence in the several versions of "Davenport Blues" recorded by Red with various groups, in some of the recordings with Whiteman, in several of his Five Pennies recordings. I am not saying that Red is imitating Bix; Red is his own man, but he echoes some of Bix's approach; Red throws in little bits reminiscent of Bix;  sometimes it is only a hint, a suspicion, but it is there.

As to the almost note for note copies of Bix's solos by Red, I am not saying that the fact of copying is, <strong>on its own</strong>, a manifestation of Bix's influence on Red. It is an additional bit of data to be added to the audible evidence to support the proposition of Bix's influence on Red.

What do other forumites think?

Albert

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Emrah Erken
Emrah Erken

December 1st, 2009, 5:25 pm #8

... I tried to avoid the word influence in my post. The interpretation of the meaning of the word "influence" differs from one person to another and at the end, people are talking about what's "influence" and what's "not influence".

As Red Nichols said it. Bix influenced Red Nichols. What does that mean?

In my opinion, Bix influenced everybody who has ever been his listener. The forumites here are all influenced by Bix. For many fans Bix is the definition of beautiful music. Therefore, we are always looking for music which has a connection to his music. It can be a solo on a recording or it can be a musician inspired by his music and playing in his style. Sometimes, it's even the exact copy of a solo.

No musician, particularly no horn player could have passed on Bix without noticing the particularity of his playing. Red and Bix were buddies and they played together. Of course they influenced each other. That doesn't mean that they tried to copy each others styles. It might have happened in a few recordings of them but both are musicians who play differently and have their own styles. I don't think that Red Nichols was a Bixian player like Secrest or Klein. That's for sure. Not even because of the recording I posted (Honey, I'm In Love With You). For me personally, it has that Bixian touch. Nothing more, nothing less.


Emrah

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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

December 1st, 2009, 9:22 pm #9


.... any dialogue is futile.

"Influence" has a very precise definition. For example from dictionary.com,

"the capacity or power of persons or things to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc., of others"

Examples help. In this country, Jimmy McPartland and Andy Secrest were strongly influenced by Bix, Andy Secrest to such an extent that his task, while with Whiteman, was to emulate Bix. In England and France, Norman Payne and Philippe Brun were strongly influenced Bix for a time.

Henry Busse and Louis Armstrong were not influenced by Bix. Neither was Jack Purvis. [Purvis was influenced by Louis, listen to Jack's recording of "Copyin' Louis."]

In between, you have Red Nichols and Sylvester Ahola who were influenced by Bix, but had their own distinct styles. In some of their recordings, you can clearly hear shades of Bix,

When I mentioned  various Red Nichols's recordings of Davenport Blues where you can hear Bix, I had the Charleston Chasers version in mind. Certainly, Red's solo is  reminiscent of Bix's solo in his own recording of the tune, the phrasing, the actual notes played.

There is little, if any, question that Bix was an original, a unique musician, a leader. Under those circumstances, other musicans are influenced. There is no derogatory connotation when I say that Red was influenced by Bix, particularly since Bix was a musical genius. Bix was a leader, an innovator; Red was influenced by Bix, as Red himself admits. Nothing wrong with that. You can be creative on your own by following someone else's lead,

Albert
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

December 2nd, 2009, 1:19 pm #10

... I tried to avoid the word influence in my post. The interpretation of the meaning of the word "influence" differs from one person to another and at the end, people are talking about what's "influence" and what's "not influence".

As Red Nichols said it. Bix influenced Red Nichols. What does that mean?

In my opinion, Bix influenced everybody who has ever been his listener. The forumites here are all influenced by Bix. For many fans Bix is the definition of beautiful music. Therefore, we are always looking for music which has a connection to his music. It can be a solo on a recording or it can be a musician inspired by his music and playing in his style. Sometimes, it's even the exact copy of a solo.

No musician, particularly no horn player could have passed on Bix without noticing the particularity of his playing. Red and Bix were buddies and they played together. Of course they influenced each other. That doesn't mean that they tried to copy each others styles. It might have happened in a few recordings of them but both are musicians who play differently and have their own styles. I don't think that Red Nichols was a Bixian player like Secrest or Klein. That's for sure. Not even because of the recording I posted (Honey, I'm In Love With You). For me personally, it has that Bixian touch. Nothing more, nothing less.


Emrah
In his book, "A New History of Jazz "(Hard Cover, Jan 2007), Shipton refers repeatedly to the influence of Bix on Red Nichols. Here are a couple of excerpts,

<em>"Beiderbecke eventually did become a major influence on Nichols' approach to both lead and solo playing."</em>

<em>"It was these same Wolverines sides that led to the direct influence of Beiderbecke on Red Nichols."</em>

There is a cruel and unfair statement about Red Nichols in Bud Freeman's autobiographical work "Crazeology." It reads,

<em>"Now in the opinion of our group, Red Nichols was a synthetic player. He was a clever musician and made a lot of records, but he was a very mechanical player. He copied every line he ever learned in jazz from Bix."</em>

Red was unfailry maligned by critics and musicians. Red had his own distinct style, albeit influenced by Bix, and his contributions in the mid to late 1920s with other great musicians such as Miff Mole, Jimmy Dorsey, Eddie Lang, Vic Berton, etc. represent milestones in the development of a highly significant chapter in the history of jazz (completely neglected by Ken Burns and his cronies).

Albert
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