Brendan Wolfe's New Bix Book Arrived Today!

Brendan Wolfe's New Bix Book Arrived Today!

Laura Demilio
Laura Demilio

March 17th, 2017, 1:22 am #1

Well gang, here it is, delivered to our door mid-afternoon. I'm on page 86 now and am doing what I often do when I'm engrossed in a terrific book: I have to step away for a moment. This is going to be a book to DISCUSS here, and I hope people do. Damn it, I'm impressed, if anything with the writing. It's going in quite a direction.

So far -- and I stress so far -- the forum chat, when briefly referred to, has been portrayed fair and square, the little chomp on Albert notwithstanding which made me whine the original posting, how are Forumites gonna be portrayed? I'm in the the middle of the reckless bray of "Oh who cares?" for right now. Not to sound irresponsible or irrepressible, as the case may be. I just hope when you folks get your copies you'll be talking about it here.

Got to get back to it and see what's next. Yeah, I'm "getting all purple about it". . . .
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Laura Demilio
Laura Demilio

March 17th, 2017, 3:39 pm #2

I was trying to email you to compliment you on the book-- I stayed up until 2 a.m. to finish it, and happily add it to my library of Bix bios -- but my stupid Comcrap mail won't let me compose new messages, only reply to current correspondence my husband and I have going.

Just wanted to touch on some really interesting points you made; would you have the time to email me so I can hit reply and ask you a couple of things? rdemilio@comcast.net. Thanks!






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Debbie White
Debbie White

March 17th, 2017, 7:30 pm #3

Well gang, here it is, delivered to our door mid-afternoon. I'm on page 86 now and am doing what I often do when I'm engrossed in a terrific book: I have to step away for a moment. This is going to be a book to DISCUSS here, and I hope people do. Damn it, I'm impressed, if anything with the writing. It's going in quite a direction.

So far -- and I stress so far -- the forum chat, when briefly referred to, has been portrayed fair and square, the little chomp on Albert notwithstanding which made me whine the original posting, how are Forumites gonna be portrayed? I'm in the the middle of the reckless bray of "Oh who cares?" for right now. Not to sound irresponsible or irrepressible, as the case may be. I just hope when you folks get your copies you'll be talking about it here.

Got to get back to it and see what's next. Yeah, I'm "getting all purple about it". . . .
Laura, I am not quite half of the way through Brendan's book, but I'm completely captivated. My expectations were already high, but they've definitely been exceeded. I am the sort of person that has to digest things, process them, and it can take some time before I can truly express my thoughts (in other words, I'm TERRIBLE "on-the-fly"), but I look forward as well to talking about the book here. Among other attributes, Brendan has IMAGINATION, which is something that has never seemed quite welcome here on the forum. I'm not talking about professing to know details about Bix or his life that aren't based on fact - not in the least - but rather feeling free and uninhibited to consider what might exist "between the lines." There's certainly plenty of material to work with.
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

March 17th, 2017, 10:48 pm #4

Well gang, here it is, delivered to our door mid-afternoon. I'm on page 86 now and am doing what I often do when I'm engrossed in a terrific book: I have to step away for a moment. This is going to be a book to DISCUSS here, and I hope people do. Damn it, I'm impressed, if anything with the writing. It's going in quite a direction.

So far -- and I stress so far -- the forum chat, when briefly referred to, has been portrayed fair and square, the little chomp on Albert notwithstanding which made me whine the original posting, how are Forumites gonna be portrayed? I'm in the the middle of the reckless bray of "Oh who cares?" for right now. Not to sound irresponsible or irrepressible, as the case may be. I just hope when you folks get your copies you'll be talking about it here.

Got to get back to it and see what's next. Yeah, I'm "getting all purple about it". . . .
We're writing about the order you placed on November 03, 2016. Unfortunately, the release date for the item(s) listed below has changed, and we need to provide you with a new delivery estimate based on the new release date:

Wolfe, Brendan "Finding Bix: The Life and Afterlife of a Jazz Legend"
Estimated arrival date: May 22, 2017 - May 25, 2017

Can anyone summarize the key (new) findings in "Finding Bix"?

Albert
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Laura Demilio
Laura Demilio

March 19th, 2017, 3:42 pm #5

Laura, I am not quite half of the way through Brendan's book, but I'm completely captivated. My expectations were already high, but they've definitely been exceeded. I am the sort of person that has to digest things, process them, and it can take some time before I can truly express my thoughts (in other words, I'm TERRIBLE "on-the-fly"), but I look forward as well to talking about the book here. Among other attributes, Brendan has IMAGINATION, which is something that has never seemed quite welcome here on the forum. I'm not talking about professing to know details about Bix or his life that aren't based on fact - not in the least - but rather feeling free and uninhibited to consider what might exist "between the lines." There's certainly plenty of material to work with.
Hi Debbie! I certainly agree -- what a compelling book. It's written with compassion and humor, and I'm on my second go-round; it was a book I could not put down. I wrote Brendan an email to compliment him and got such a kind reply -- do let him know how much you like it. I want to review it on Amazon after mulling it over a bit.

Honestly, there was such a fairness to it -- nobody was portrayed to look anything but as feeling people expressing their opinions. Nothing caustic or insulting (perhaps a tiny bit of lighthearted gentle batting, but not at all in a malevolent spirit), nothing sleazy or cheap in delving into the enigma about Bix -- or rather, about interpreting Bix, because it's not so much that Bix himself seemed such a mysterious guy as it was the perceptions so many people had/have of him - personalities are complex and sometimes people themselves either don't iron out their inner complications (if they are indeed fraught with them) or just don't want to display their every thought and motive out in the open for everyone to scrutinize, and to me, that's Bix. But to someone else, surely Bix meant to them something else entirely!

Brendan was so good about not stating any definitive "this is how it must have happened." We are free to read between the lines ourselves and come to our own conclusions. I can still maintain my same opinion -- and yes, defense of Bix, faults 'n' all, while understanding why others may have a different take on him; still love and appreciate the music; still have admiration and respect for the Bixography Forum and enjoy participating on it.

We're not given a picture of a perfect guy, or a messed-up guy, or a cartoon figure, and somehow it's okay to not be able to zero in on him and "get" what he was all about; we don't need to. This book was so heartfelt and original and I will enjoy re-reading as often as I do the Evans & Evans and Davenport Album.

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Laura Demilio
Laura Demilio

March 19th, 2017, 4:02 pm #6

We're writing about the order you placed on November 03, 2016. Unfortunately, the release date for the item(s) listed below has changed, and we need to provide you with a new delivery estimate based on the new release date:

Wolfe, Brendan "Finding Bix: The Life and Afterlife of a Jazz Legend"
Estimated arrival date: May 22, 2017 - May 25, 2017

Can anyone summarize the key (new) findings in "Finding Bix"?

Albert
Albert -- I pre-ordered my copy as soon as I heard here that the book was published. I had expected it in May but my copy was sent to me just this week -- let's see, it was Thursday that it arrived.

Now, re: new findings -- are you meaning, what in the book is new and original as opposed to the other biographies? I think we who have read the book will have to sit on it awhile and think about how to convey it, but as Debbie said and I agree, it is refreshing and original, without having to come to any definitive conclusion at all about Bix -- more relying on how everyone around him, from friends who knew him to biographers about him to people today who listen to his music and discuss him, interpret his -- let's say incidents in his life without digging right down to the meaning of it all, the life itself. It's not some volume trumpeting: "Here is why Bix drank himself to death!" (did he?) It's not "Bix committed a crime and his family banished him!" (we're left to think for ourselves what the circumstances might have been without a murmur of accusation). It's not "This is what Bix wanted to do with his music, and was thwarted at every step!" (still leaving readers with the impression that a gifted artist left this world too soon so that we are cheated from hearing an evolved and developed musician of later decades).

Oh, I'm still sticking to my guns that Ralphie Berton was a smarmy tale-teller, but he's, if not exactly a blip on the radar in this book, still relegated to being someone who was no expert on Bix. The discussions in the book with all the people Brendan spoke to/emailed are lively. They freely express opinions and interpretations, and nobody is, or has to be, "absolutely right" or be the last word. Readers are left to think for themselves. And you know? I think even people who might not entirely agree with the direction this book takes are not going to dislike it. It's just a damn good read.

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Cliff Preiss
Cliff Preiss

March 21st, 2017, 11:35 pm #7

We're writing about the order you placed on November 03, 2016. Unfortunately, the release date for the item(s) listed below has changed, and we need to provide you with a new delivery estimate based on the new release date:

Wolfe, Brendan "Finding Bix: The Life and Afterlife of a Jazz Legend"
Estimated arrival date: May 22, 2017 - May 25, 2017

Can anyone summarize the key (new) findings in "Finding Bix"?

Albert
https://books.google.com/books?id=e0gkD ... ix&f=false

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

March 22nd, 2017, 2:33 pm #8

Well gang, here it is, delivered to our door mid-afternoon. I'm on page 86 now and am doing what I often do when I'm engrossed in a terrific book: I have to step away for a moment. This is going to be a book to DISCUSS here, and I hope people do. Damn it, I'm impressed, if anything with the writing. It's going in quite a direction.

So far -- and I stress so far -- the forum chat, when briefly referred to, has been portrayed fair and square, the little chomp on Albert notwithstanding which made me whine the original posting, how are Forumites gonna be portrayed? I'm in the the middle of the reckless bray of "Oh who cares?" for right now. Not to sound irresponsible or irrepressible, as the case may be. I just hope when you folks get your copies you'll be talking about it here.

Got to get back to it and see what's next. Yeah, I'm "getting all purple about it". . . .
http://www.rcreader.com/news/davenport-blues

http://www.rcreader.com/commentary/beid ... er-article

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

March 22nd, 2017, 2:40 pm #9

I understand that the original "Davenport Blues" article was from July 11, but the date in the "Davenport Blues" article cited in my previous posting is July 24. ????

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

March 24th, 2017, 9:41 pm #10

Paul Mertz on "Remembering Bix" by Ralph Berton. (uploaded Sep 24, 2005).

Following the publication of Leonard Feather's review of Berton's book in the April 7, 1974 issue of the Los Angeles Times, Paul Mertz sent a letter to the editor. Mertz commented on several aspects of Feather's review.

1. Feather wrote "Berton brings a picture which, though fictionalized to a degree, offers a perceptive insight into the Jazz Age from the perspective of Beiderbecke, Berton and others similarly alienated." Mertz comments on the phrase "fictionalized to a degree." He writes, "That phrase is a pregnant one, best assessed by those of us who personally knew and associated with him." "Fictionality tends to thrive when reminiscences must surmount a 40-year interim, and it surely does in this book." "The purport of the title of the work is misleading. More apropos (sic) would have been, "A Hagiography of the Berton family"; and, possibly, subtitle, "Its help in the transfiguration of Bix." "Also, sporadically, there is "speculative" analysis of the Beiderbecke character from womb to tomb."

Paul Mertz also wrote a review of Berton's book and sent copies to several of his friends. Here it is, in its totality through the courtesy of Tom Pletcher.

"Ralph Berton's book on Bix Beiderbecke compares favorably to that of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Both books are based on pipedreams.

Mr. Berton has talent as a writer, but shows inability to do any honest research into his subject. Mr. Berton, aside from possibly three interviews (and one of these claims he was misquoted!), relies on books that can be found at the nearest public library.

Perhaps this book should have been retitled to deal solely with the sexual activities of the Berton family? There can be no explanation as to why Mr. Berton has sought to drag down the name of Bix Beiderbecke to that low level. It is sensationalism, alone, that Mr. Berton offers rather than a factual view of Bix's life. Does Mr. Berton need a buck that badly?

What I can determine is that Mr. Berton has only a passing knowledge, at best, of what Bix Beiderbecke was doing during his professional career, and absolutely no knowledge of what Bix was doing in his adolescent years.

Where does one start to identify the mistakes? When an author is clearly in doubt as to his facts in his book, as Mr. Berton is, an attempt to try and list the mistakes would take more time that I care to devote. For the record, I was less than half-way through the book and had stopped counting the mistakes at twenty-five.

Mr. Berton would have the reader believe that as a youth of 13 years, (though, by his own admission, many thought that he looked eleven years old), he palled around with Bix, who was then 21. The constant reminders to the reader of how he amazed Bix by his vast knowledge of a variety of subjects, became increasingly hard to swallow.

Particularly intriguing was Mr. Berton's account of Bix's passing in Queens General Hospital. Yes, it was sad to read the account. Sad because it never happened that way! Bix died in his rooming house. A simple bit of research could easily have established this fact.

There are many injustices toward the Beiderbecke family, including the incorrect spelling of Bix's father's name. Any information about the family would have been easy to come by for there are many Beiderbeckes still living, including Bix's sister Mary, and they could have supplied correct information. But again, that would mean doing a bit of research, and that would only get in the way of prefabrications.

Mr. Berton focuses the book in the summer of 1924 and the days that the Wolverine Orchestra spent at Gary, Indiana. It is understandable how, at that tender age, he was confused on how his brother, Vic Berton, could have been the drummer then with the band, while they still retained their own drummer, Victor Moore. Mr. Berton solves that mystery by alternating the two on drums. Amazing! Even goes so far as to identify a photo (# 6, sandwiched between pages 240 & 241) incorrectly to support his "theory." The man identified as Vic Moore (#2) is Min Leibrook. Give a closer look. Where was Vic Moore? On vacation during the Gary engagement. Who said so? Vic Moore, himself. (By the way, on the opposite page, that is Sylvester "Hody [sic]" Ahola with the trumpet, not Howdy Quicksell, as identified. Howdy played the banjo.)

Mr. Berton falls repeatedly into the traps that have snared all past mythical accounts on Bix's life. This is due to his heavy reliance on books that have previously been proven incorrect in their attempts to deal with Bix. Some of his mistakes are so unforgivable that it reduces his stature to that of a neophyte in the realm of the Beiderbecke world.

It is obvious that any effort toward true research would have caused Mr. Berton's pipedreams to burst, and like Walter Mitty, he preferred to live in a dream world -not the world of reality. Too bad, for Bix deserves so much better than having a purple accounting of his life as written by Mr. Berton."

I am grateful to Tom Pletcher for sendding me the copy of Mertz's review of Berton's book.

Albert
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