Bill Gottlieb on Bix. Bill did not like Bix. Bill had very poor taste.

Bill Gottlieb on Bix. Bill did not like Bix. Bill had very poor taste.

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

April 22nd, 2012, 10:35 pm #1


Bill Gottlieb was a jazz photographer and critic. He wrote a weekly column for the Washington Post. Here is his column about Bix from Aug 10, 1941.



Very little about Bix's music, mostly about the legend and, to make things worse, in the form of pretentious psychological analysis. Read this bit of cheap psychological crap by Gottlieb.

<em>The name "Bix" is what it is today principally because Beiderbecke was the best answer for the demands of the early swing enthusiasts who, without consciously knowing it, needed a fabulous human symbol to help sell their enthusiasm to others.</em>

Gottlieb does not realize that the Bix legend includes not only the man but also his music. Gottlieb shows no understanding of Bix's music. He mentions only Whiteman, and in a rather derogatory manner. Of course, Bix was phenomenal with Whiteman, but there were also the Wolverines, Goldkette, Tram, the Gang and more. We know better. Get a load of the enormity of Gottlieb's evaluation of Bix's standing as a musician.

<em>Nor for that matter is Bix a towering figure in jazz by regular standards. </em>

What are "regular standards"? Poor writing under the guise of insight.

And Gottlieb demeans Bix  by asserting that

<em>His classically simple horn was subtle enough to challenge the imagination and make a fan feel like he knew the password to some esoteric society once he "caught on" to Bix.</em> 

Gottlieb makes Bix into a snake oil artist selling the listener a bill of goods. Preposterous.

Albert
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David Logue
David Logue

April 23rd, 2012, 12:29 pm #2

I may be wrong, but I get the impression that Gottlieb's article is more of a swipe at those who idolize Bix rather than Bix or his music, espeically since the article bearly touches on his music. In fact, Gottlieb does admit in his article that Bix had "unmistakable genius".

Whatever his opinion of Bix, Gottlieb was a great photographer. His book of photographs "The Golden Age of Jazz" is one of my prized possessions.
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

April 23rd, 2012, 2:05 pm #3


You make a good point. I agree that the Gottlieb mostly criticizes Bix's admirers. And he says that Bix had unmistakable genius.

But he also writes, "While he was alive, Bix wasn't big enough to have his own orchestra." First, I note that, although Bix did not have a  working orchestra, he had recording orchestras, the Gang and the 1930 orchestra. And since when having your own orchestra is a requirement to make you big? As one example, Eddie Lang did not have his own (working) orchestra. Did that make him small?

In particular, the following two sentences apply directly to Bix, not his fans, they are Gottlieb's personal opinions. "With all this, Beiderbecke's horn cannot be listed as the greatest of all time. Nor, for that matter, is Bix a towering figure in jazz by regular standards." So, aside from the legend, Gottlieb is saying that Bix was not a "towering figure in jazz." Of course, he was, a highly influential musician whose importance was recognized by fellow musicians and some critics while he was still alive.

Albert

Of course, Gottlieb's significance as a photographer is not diminished by any criticism of his writing about Bix.
Last edited by ahaim on April 23rd, 2012, 2:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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