Bix's "Newsreel" Cornet

Bix's "Newsreel" Cornet

Frank van Nus
Frank van Nus

April 7th, 2009, 12:08 pm #1

Reading the text accompanying the 1928 Whiteman newsreel edited and posted by Youtube member Harryoakley http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RmD7jeIEkfg), I was intrigued and surprised by the following: "Recent research also reveals that Bix plays a Holton cornet here, rather than the Bach Stradivarius or his preferred Conn Victor. It seems that, in spite of his expensive purchase, Bix didn't like the Bach; no photos are known of Bix actually playing or even holding it."

Now I haven't seen this "recent research", but I have previously asserted that the horn Bix was playing here is in fact one of his Bachs (I tried to provide proof of that, see http://www.network54.com/Forum/27140/me ... r+Close-up). Of course, the comments on Youtube made me look again. But I found that my previous analysis still holds water: the lead pipe of the cornet in Bix's hands takes its first bend right after passing the valves, and therefore it can't be a Conn Victor OR a Holton Clarke model (both of which had extended, trumpet-style lead pipes). But this time I also found that in a couple of frames there's a little blur where a Bach Strad would have its finger hook (one of those frames can be seen below). And in one single frame (also shown below), the little blur catches the studio light, revealing it to be made of metal. Definitely a finger hook then, strengthening the case for a Bach, and weakening the case for the Holton, which as a rule had no finger hook. To be fair, Bix might have asked for a finger hook as part of the customization of his Holton cornet, but then again it doesn't show in the Holton studio portrait, and, as mentioned, the Holton has an extended lead pipe anyway. Moreover, since Tom Pletcher has established a long time ago that Bix was still playing his Bach in 1931, I can't understand this assertion that Bix didn't like it. No photos of Bix playing or holding the Bach, perhaps, but definitely a piece of mid-1928 film footage, when Bix was in his prime!

Then, there's the assertion that "although it has been claimed that Bix misses notes and/or plays some notes without puffed cheeks, it is now clear that in fact he is written into the score for only a few notes of the passage and that he deliberately skips notes. Every note he does play is with puffed cheeks." I provided a lengthy analysis of the few frames in which we see Bix playing http://www.network54.com/Forum/27140/me ... Embouchure). I still stand by that posting.

Frank

Last edited by ahaim on April 7th, 2009, 1:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Malcolm Walton
Malcolm Walton

April 7th, 2009, 2:17 pm #2

I have recently re-studied , frame by frame, the newsreel film in a version where the sound has been properly synchronised with the picture. I would say that Bix does indeed puff out his cheeks for every note that he plays. It's worth bearing in mind that he does not actually play every note that the brass section can be heard playing, and that the unsynchronised (widely available) version leads to a different interpretation of sound/vision. .
Most importantly though, I did agree with Frank , originally, that it could be a Bach that he is playing; but now I am convinced that it is a Holton. I have a 1928 Holton-Clarke (identical to the one that Bix is photographed with) and a 1930 New York Bach Stad (identical to the one in the Putnam Museum). I angled both instruments to the near exact position on the frames where you can clearly see the instrument that Bix is playing, i.e. the last few frames where he is lowering the instrument prior to sitting down. I found the following to be true from this angle:
1. The bend in the lead pipe is in the same position as the Holton, further forward than on the Bach.
2. The mouthpiece receiver is in the same position as the Holton, whereas the Bach receiver is level with the curve on the bell pipe.
I can see Bix's finger going forwards a couple of times and cannot really comment on that. It is true that the Holton did not have a finger ring, but there might be other reasons why Bix moved his finger.
I am therefore fairly certain that the instrument in the newsreel film is a Holton; and why not ? the Whiteman Band had just been sponsored by them and I can imagine the Band Manager instructing them to play Holton instruments for the film, otherwise ..... !
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Emrah Erken
Emrah Erken

April 7th, 2009, 11:24 pm #3

I had read somewhere (don't remember where) that Jimmy McPartland had played with a cornet that Bix gave to him before quitting the Wolverines his entire life. If this is true what kind of a cornet is it and is this cornet also in a museum?
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Malcolm Walton
Malcolm Walton

April 8th, 2009, 1:03 am #4

Bix took Jimmy McPartland to a music shop and found a Conn Victor Cornet for him (don't know who paid for it) when he joined the Wolverines. At a later date (1927) Bix persuaded him to buy a Bach cornet similar to the two he himself had just bought. Images of the shop cards can be found on the Internet for all three Bachs .As far as I know, Mcpartland's cornet is not in a museum.
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

April 8th, 2009, 3:43 pm #5

I had read somewhere (don't remember where) that Jimmy McPartland had played with a cornet that Bix gave to him before quitting the Wolverines his entire life. If this is true what kind of a cornet is it and is this cornet also in a museum?
Fromhttp://bixography.com/images2/photogall ... rdforJimmy

According to Evans and Evans, "Bix: The Leon Bix Beiderbecke Story," Bix helped Jimmy McPartland buy a Bach Stradivarius cornet. In a telephone interview of 2/1/54, Jimmy McPartland stated, "We played a jam session in the Three Deuces and Bix showed me his new Bach cornet, the best horn he'd ever owned. I fell in love with it, and right after the jam session, he took me over to the Dixie Music Company. Bix put down $100 for a Bach [serial number 929]. and told me, "You can scrape up the other $50." Jimmy did and picked up the cornet on December 14th. "

Here is the image of the file card, courtesy of Roy Hempley.



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

April 8th, 2009, 7:37 pm #6

Bix took Jimmy McPartland to a music shop and found a Conn Victor Cornet for him (don't know who paid for it) when he joined the Wolverines. At a later date (1927) Bix persuaded him to buy a Bach cornet similar to the two he himself had just bought. Images of the shop cards can be found on the Internet for all three Bachs .As far as I know, Mcpartland's cornet is not in a museum.
According to Evans and Evans, Jimmy gave his Strad 929 to his nephew, then had it back, and is now on display in the Chicago Historical Society.

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

April 8th, 2009, 8:08 pm #7

Fromhttp://bixography.com/images2/photogall ... rdforJimmy

According to Evans and Evans, "Bix: The Leon Bix Beiderbecke Story," Bix helped Jimmy McPartland buy a Bach Stradivarius cornet. In a telephone interview of 2/1/54, Jimmy McPartland stated, "We played a jam session in the Three Deuces and Bix showed me his new Bach cornet, the best horn he'd ever owned. I fell in love with it, and right after the jam session, he took me over to the Dixie Music Company. Bix put down $100 for a Bach [serial number 929]. and told me, "You can scrape up the other $50." Jimmy did and picked up the cornet on December 14th. "

Here is the image of the file card, courtesy of Roy Hempley.



Albert
Bix bought his first Vincent Bach Stradivarius Cornet in Feb 1927. It was serial number 616.



Bix picked up the cornet in New York. Bix, at the same time, ordered another Stradivarius cornet, serial number 620 which was sent to Bix in Detroit.



This is the cornet currently in possession of the Putnam Museum. It was donated to the Museum by Bob Christensen who had purchased it from Bixs sister.

I believe that the jam session at the Three Deuces mentioned by Jimmy McPartland must have taken place in November 1927. Jimmys Bach cornet was finished on Dec 13, 1927. Note that Bix with Whiteman played in the Chicago Theatre Nov 7, 1927 to Nov 13, 1927. One block away, at 222 North Street, was Sam Beers My Cellar. Bix went there for bathtub gin and played a piano in the basement. The place became known as the Three Deuces (for our overseas visitor, 222, a two is a deuce; the Three Deuces took its name from the Four Deuces, the biggest whorehouse syndicate in Chicago at the time) and was a gathering place (jam sessions) after hours for musicians.

Frank expressed surprise upon reading in the youtube site with the Fox film that "Recent research also reveals that Bix plays a Holton cornet here, rather than the Bach Stradivarius or his preferred Conn Victor. It seems that, in spite of his expensive purchase, Bix didn't like the Bach; no photos are known of Bix actually playing or even holding it." Clearly, the fact that Bix showed his Bach cornet to Jimmy McPartand, almost a year after he had purchased it, had it with him in Chicago, had in fact purchased two Bach cornets, and Bixs help with Jimmys purchase of a Bach cornet, is evidence of the high regard that Bix had for the models he owned, the Stradivarius 616 and the Stradivarius 620. This is in apparent contradiction with the assertion by "harrryoakley" that "Bix didnt like the Bach."

Albert

PS Does anyone know when the Beiderbecke family took possession of Bixs Bach 620? It was in the hands of Bixs sister for several years, before Bob Christensen purchased it.

Pertinent quotes from Ralph Norton in Evans and Evans.

Regarding the Bach #620, I have played it several times and tried to analyze it and the results it produces. It tends to sound a little "dark" at time, and with a smaller bore than the Victor, it tends to sound a little "thin" in places. I suspect Bix may not have cared for it as much as other horns. It certainly does not appear to have been played too much.

I point out that Bob Mantler "borrowed" the 620 from Bix's sister in order to have it restored. This was before Norton played the 620.

More quotes.

Paul Whiteman endorsed Holton instruments starting in May 1928, so it is not surprising there are photos of Bix with a Holton cornet. It's s Herbert Clark model. The model was a good horn but not quite up to the level of the Conn Victor or the Bach or even the Martin. I personally doubt if Bix favored the Holton very much.
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

April 8th, 2009, 9:22 pm #8

Fromhttp://bixography.com/images2/photogall ... rdforJimmy

According to Evans and Evans, "Bix: The Leon Bix Beiderbecke Story," Bix helped Jimmy McPartland buy a Bach Stradivarius cornet. In a telephone interview of 2/1/54, Jimmy McPartland stated, "We played a jam session in the Three Deuces and Bix showed me his new Bach cornet, the best horn he'd ever owned. I fell in love with it, and right after the jam session, he took me over to the Dixie Music Company. Bix put down $100 for a Bach [serial number 929]. and told me, "You can scrape up the other $50." Jimmy did and picked up the cornet on December 14th. "

Here is the image of the file card, courtesy of Roy Hempley.



Albert
Through the courtesy of Russ B, a British Bixophile who was a friend of Ralph Venables', here are two photos of Jimmy McPartland.

Jimmy and His wife Marian during World War II.



Here is a photo of Jimmy playing with a group of musicians.



Two questions.

- Does anyone recognize the musicians in the photo?

- What type of cornet is Jimmy Playing? here is a close-up.



Albert
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Frank van Nus
Frank van Nus

April 9th, 2009, 1:05 pm #9

I have recently re-studied , frame by frame, the newsreel film in a version where the sound has been properly synchronised with the picture. I would say that Bix does indeed puff out his cheeks for every note that he plays. It's worth bearing in mind that he does not actually play every note that the brass section can be heard playing, and that the unsynchronised (widely available) version leads to a different interpretation of sound/vision. .
Most importantly though, I did agree with Frank , originally, that it could be a Bach that he is playing; but now I am convinced that it is a Holton. I have a 1928 Holton-Clarke (identical to the one that Bix is photographed with) and a 1930 New York Bach Stad (identical to the one in the Putnam Museum). I angled both instruments to the near exact position on the frames where you can clearly see the instrument that Bix is playing, i.e. the last few frames where he is lowering the instrument prior to sitting down. I found the following to be true from this angle:
1. The bend in the lead pipe is in the same position as the Holton, further forward than on the Bach.
2. The mouthpiece receiver is in the same position as the Holton, whereas the Bach receiver is level with the curve on the bell pipe.
I can see Bix's finger going forwards a couple of times and cannot really comment on that. It is true that the Holton did not have a finger ring, but there might be other reasons why Bix moved his finger.
I am therefore fairly certain that the instrument in the newsreel film is a Holton; and why not ? the Whiteman Band had just been sponsored by them and I can imagine the Band Manager instructing them to play Holton instruments for the film, otherwise ..... !
Hi Malcolm, with regard to the arrangement and Bix's part, I think we've been talking at cross purposes here. For reasons of time, I can only address the issue of Bix's cornet part now. I'd like to address the highly interesting issue of the cornet itself at another time, if I may.

Last year I did a transcription of the "My Ohio Home" verse from the newsreel soundtrack (this "Finale" transcription was uploaded at http://bixbeiderbecke.com/myohiohomeverse.pdf ) (1). 

My conclusions were as follows: Ferde Grofé split the trumpets into two teams, which, for the sake of argument, I'll call Team A and team B. Team A has two trumpets, and team B has a trumpet and Bix. 

Team A and B swap phrases, which contain either 3 or 4 staccato notes. The order is A - B - A   A - B, and then A - B - A   A - B - A. 

Team A plays a total of 25 notes, and team B plays a total of 13 notes. All phrases are complete and consistently in duet form, which means none of the players missed a note (2).

Using my transcription as a basis, this would mean that Bix played a grand total of 13 notes. At http://www.network54.com/Forum/27140/me ... Embouchure an extracted "Bix part" can be seen, together with screen shots corresponding with some of the notes, as well as my comments on Bix's embouchure. By the way, I did take into account the synchronization problem in the Yazoo version, which has the soundtrack running just slightly ahead of the images.

As far as I can ascertain, Bix plays his three high Fs and one Bb (phrase nr. 2 for "team B") with a more or less firm embouchure, but the other phrases are played with a very loose embouchure, i.e. his cheeks puff out. 

Frank


(1) At the time, I used the clip's images only to ascertain which team Bix was on, and to compare my "Bix part" with his fingerings. In other words, the issue of synchronization (which I was aware of at the time) played no part in the process of transcription, which was done aurally. 

(2) Grofé appears to have used the pentatonic scale from the chorus melody as a basic idea (very nifty) to construct the duets in the trumpet parts, which resulted in all those dissonant "major seconds" (G/F, C/Bb and one instance of F/Eb). 
I also want to point out the possibility that Grofé actually wrote half-note triplets for the trumpets, instead of the syncopated figures I decided on. I think either notation would have come out more or less the way it actually sounds in the clip.
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

April 9th, 2009, 5:56 pm #10

Through the courtesy of Russ B, a British Bixophile who was a friend of Ralph Venables', here are two photos of Jimmy McPartland.

Jimmy and His wife Marian during World War II.



Here is a photo of Jimmy playing with a group of musicians.



Two questions.

- Does anyone recognize the musicians in the photo?

- What type of cornet is Jimmy Playing? here is a close-up.



Albert
Anyone?

Albert
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