Mason-Dixon: the one that escaped the net

Mason-Dixon: the one that escaped the net

Ken Bristow
Ken Bristow

January 25th, 2011, 3:48 pm #1

In the Beiderbecke discographies, going way back to the fifties when, thanks to the pains-taking efforts of the late Brian Rust and others, much detail and new information regarding participating musicians on the various sessions Bix was involved in was made available to the public for the first time.
Now, with the benefit of hindsight it's surprising how accurate it all was and how much work was involved at the time. By the 1930's record companies usually kept details of participating musicians as a matter of policy. But this wasn't always the case in the 'twenties. Thanks to the likes of Edgar Jackson in England, who through his connections with the Gramophone Company at Hayes in West London, was able to get the American companies to supply the personnels with each new release as a matter of routine.
The first detailed Bix discography appeared in 'Bugles for Beiderbecke' in 1960. 20 years later, in 'Man & Legend', then 'Evans & Evans' and finally in J.P. Lion's up-dated Bix biography all missed out on what, now appears to be a truly astonishing oversight, that is, Bix's short appearances on 'What a Day' and 'Alabamy Snow' on the Mason-Dixon Columbia sides. Was it because it was assumed by the great jazz public and the army of Bixophiles that 'I like that' was to be Bix's last appearance on a Tram side?
On 'Alabamy', blink and you'll miss him. But the cornet taking the eight bar solo at the end of 'What a day', well who could it be but Bix himself? The sound, the tone, it just has to be him. On the previous day Bix was soloing on the Old Gold radio programme. The Mason-Dixon sides were recorded on 15th May 1929. The next day, the 16th, Bix appeared on the Whiteman session that produced 'Your mother and mine'. Over the three days he was in good shape and perfectly able to play.
So how and why did it take so long for him to be identified on these sides?
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Glenda Childress
Glenda Childress

January 25th, 2011, 4:58 pm #2

Ken, you raise a good question. Was Bix's absence assumed from Tram's statement that the "I Like That" session was his last with the Trumbauer Orchestra? Was it because the Mason-Dixon Orchestra has some "wildcatters" playing outside their Whiteman contract and Tram wanted to protect himself, Bix, and any others? Are there other reasons why this session was overlooked? And the fun in speculating suggests that if so, there just might be other unknown Bix recordings out there.
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Malcolm Walton
Malcolm Walton

January 25th, 2011, 6:31 pm #3

In the Beiderbecke discographies, going way back to the fifties when, thanks to the pains-taking efforts of the late Brian Rust and others, much detail and new information regarding participating musicians on the various sessions Bix was involved in was made available to the public for the first time.
Now, with the benefit of hindsight it's surprising how accurate it all was and how much work was involved at the time. By the 1930's record companies usually kept details of participating musicians as a matter of policy. But this wasn't always the case in the 'twenties. Thanks to the likes of Edgar Jackson in England, who through his connections with the Gramophone Company at Hayes in West London, was able to get the American companies to supply the personnels with each new release as a matter of routine.
The first detailed Bix discography appeared in 'Bugles for Beiderbecke' in 1960. 20 years later, in 'Man & Legend', then 'Evans & Evans' and finally in J.P. Lion's up-dated Bix biography all missed out on what, now appears to be a truly astonishing oversight, that is, Bix's short appearances on 'What a Day' and 'Alabamy Snow' on the Mason-Dixon Columbia sides. Was it because it was assumed by the great jazz public and the army of Bixophiles that 'I like that' was to be Bix's last appearance on a Tram side?
On 'Alabamy', blink and you'll miss him. But the cornet taking the eight bar solo at the end of 'What a day', well who could it be but Bix himself? The sound, the tone, it just has to be him. On the previous day Bix was soloing on the Old Gold radio programme. The Mason-Dixon sides were recorded on 15th May 1929. The next day, the 16th, Bix appeared on the Whiteman session that produced 'Your mother and mine'. Over the three days he was in good shape and perfectly able to play.
So how and why did it take so long for him to be identified on these sides?
I can only say, what I have said many times before (sometimes on this forum), that when I first bought the LP "It sounds like Bix" ; probably in the late 1970s or early 80s, I was imediately convinced the Bix was present on these sides. Initially I recognised his unmistakable stamp on the background "fill ins" on Alabammy Snow. I thought at the time that the solo on What a Day was by Secrest - now of course open to reapraisal. Anyway, I do not necessarily claim to have been the first to spot this, but I did do the tiny bit of research needed to establish that Bix was recording with the Whiteman entourage both before and after this session (so why would he have been excluded ?). I also made the supposition that, although nominally under Trumbauer's baton as it were, it was not a Trumbauer band under contract to Okeh, being on Columbia.I did share this knowledge with fellow Bix fans at that time: and they all agreed with me!
It has taken an extraordinary length of time for this to have been generally recognised as a genuine Bix item. I can't imagine why Rust and others discounted it.
Malcolm
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

January 25th, 2011, 7:24 pm #4

In the Beiderbecke discographies, going way back to the fifties when, thanks to the pains-taking efforts of the late Brian Rust and others, much detail and new information regarding participating musicians on the various sessions Bix was involved in was made available to the public for the first time.
Now, with the benefit of hindsight it's surprising how accurate it all was and how much work was involved at the time. By the 1930's record companies usually kept details of participating musicians as a matter of policy. But this wasn't always the case in the 'twenties. Thanks to the likes of Edgar Jackson in England, who through his connections with the Gramophone Company at Hayes in West London, was able to get the American companies to supply the personnels with each new release as a matter of routine.
The first detailed Bix discography appeared in 'Bugles for Beiderbecke' in 1960. 20 years later, in 'Man & Legend', then 'Evans & Evans' and finally in J.P. Lion's up-dated Bix biography all missed out on what, now appears to be a truly astonishing oversight, that is, Bix's short appearances on 'What a Day' and 'Alabamy Snow' on the Mason-Dixon Columbia sides. Was it because it was assumed by the great jazz public and the army of Bixophiles that 'I like that' was to be Bix's last appearance on a Tram side?
On 'Alabamy', blink and you'll miss him. But the cornet taking the eight bar solo at the end of 'What a day', well who could it be but Bix himself? The sound, the tone, it just has to be him. On the previous day Bix was soloing on the Old Gold radio programme. The Mason-Dixon sides were recorded on 15th May 1929. The next day, the 16th, Bix appeared on the Whiteman session that produced 'Your mother and mine'. Over the three days he was in good shape and perfectly able to play.
So how and why did it take so long for him to be identified on these sides?
.... was my response to your posting of Jul 19, 2010 where you take it as a <em>fait accompli </em>that Bix plays in "What A Day" and "Alabamy Snow."

Here is your post http://www.network54.com/Forum/27140/me ... 279576073/

Here was my response http://www.network54.com/Forum/27140/me ... 279716390/

You make the same point in your latest post. You refer to these as "escaped the net." "What A Day!" did not escape the net. It was included in the 1975 Broadway LP # 104 -more than three decades ago- as an example of a great Bix emulation by Andy Secrest. According to Steve Smith in the sleeve of the LP,<em> "Secrest shows here how he could fool many Bix collectors."</em>

I don't think that Bix is present in the May 15, 1929 session. I explained some of my reasons in the "Not So Fast" posting. I am not the only one that doubts the presence of Bix in this session. See, for example, Dave B's post.

http://www.network54.com/Forum/27140/message/1197937512 

Obviously, there are contradictory opinions about the Nov 15, 1929 session. Similarly, there are contrasting opinions about the identity of the soloist in Miller's "Cradle of Love." Paul S once complained about the presentation of hypotheses as facts. That's a very important point. Let us all remember it.

Albert
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Ken Bristow
Ken Bristow

January 25th, 2011, 9:11 pm #5

Albert, we can never be 100% certain on these matters. But to my ear, and over 80 years after the event, our ears are all we have in order to make the decision is it him or isn't it?.
But I can't accept that Secrest was that clever or, more to the point, gifted, to fool us it was Bix taking the solo. He was famous for playing Bix style cornet. That's why Whiteman hired him.
Secrest at his best always sounds to me like Bix on an off form day. Its that Bix tone he can't get. But that's not a criticism. Thousands of trumpeters before and since have tried . . . and all failed. That's what separates Bix from all the others. As another famous musician once commented, "There 'aint none of 'em play like him yet"
On the Mason-Dixon sides Bix is on good form and on this one, even allowing for what little he's given to do, I have only my ears to assist me in making my decision. And I will have to stand by that.
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Andy Schumm
Andy Schumm

January 26th, 2011, 7:42 pm #6

.... was my response to your posting of Jul 19, 2010 where you take it as a <em>fait accompli </em>that Bix plays in "What A Day" and "Alabamy Snow."

Here is your post http://www.network54.com/Forum/27140/me ... 279576073/

Here was my response http://www.network54.com/Forum/27140/me ... 279716390/

You make the same point in your latest post. You refer to these as "escaped the net." "What A Day!" did not escape the net. It was included in the 1975 Broadway LP # 104 -more than three decades ago- as an example of a great Bix emulation by Andy Secrest. According to Steve Smith in the sleeve of the LP,<em> "Secrest shows here how he could fool many Bix collectors."</em>

I don't think that Bix is present in the May 15, 1929 session. I explained some of my reasons in the "Not So Fast" posting. I am not the only one that doubts the presence of Bix in this session. See, for example, Dave B's post.

http://www.network54.com/Forum/27140/message/1197937512 

Obviously, there are contradictory opinions about the Nov 15, 1929 session. Similarly, there are contrasting opinions about the identity of the soloist in Miller's "Cradle of Love." Paul S once complained about the presentation of hypotheses as facts. That's a very important point. Let us all remember it.

Albert
I believe the key to understanding these sides is considering who is actually playing the lead. I don't think it's Secrest (except for when the lead player and Secrest swap roles as was often done in the Whiteman band). I'll leave it at that.

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

January 26th, 2011, 7:49 pm #7

Albert, we can never be 100% certain on these matters. But to my ear, and over 80 years after the event, our ears are all we have in order to make the decision is it him or isn't it?.
But I can't accept that Secrest was that clever or, more to the point, gifted, to fool us it was Bix taking the solo. He was famous for playing Bix style cornet. That's why Whiteman hired him.
Secrest at his best always sounds to me like Bix on an off form day. Its that Bix tone he can't get. But that's not a criticism. Thousands of trumpeters before and since have tried . . . and all failed. That's what separates Bix from all the others. As another famous musician once commented, "There 'aint none of 'em play like him yet"
On the Mason-Dixon sides Bix is on good form and on this one, even allowing for what little he's given to do, I have only my ears to assist me in making my decision. And I will have to stand by that.
I think you are being a bit unfair about Andy Secrest. He was quite a good horn player, just he had the bad luck of having been chosen as a Bix emulator and thus spent quite a bit of time under Bix's shadow. Listen to Andy's solo in this excellent version of "After You've Gone" by Paul Whiteman's orchestra.

http://www.redhotjazz.com/songs/whiteman/aftruvgn.ram   

Albert
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Ken Bristow
Ken Bristow

January 27th, 2011, 10:44 am #8

I believe the key to understanding these sides is considering who is actually playing the lead. I don't think it's Secrest (except for when the lead player and Secrest swap roles as was often done in the Whiteman band). I'll leave it at that.

Andy
The 1960 'Bugles' discography for the Mason-Dixon sides gives us:
Margulis, Goldfield & Secrest,
Rank,
Tram, Strickfadden & Friedman,
Hayton, Quinn, Leibrook & Marsh.
Recorded 15th May 1929.

Yet to me, the chorus on 'What a Day' is far more convincing as being by Bix than the one on 'Cradle of Love'.

And a possible scenario:
Bix makes an unscheduled visit into the Columbia Studio before recording activity had commenced, and it's agreed he takes the eight bars on 'What a Day' and then doodles around in the background on 'Alabamy'.
Earlier in the year Bix, when off sick, had written to Tram asking for a loan. If his finances were still in a parlous state, Tram may have given him the opportunity here to make a few dollars extra.
Nine days later Whiteman, Bix and the boys left Pennsylvania Station on the Old Gold train bound for Hollywood intending to make the film 'King of Jazz'.
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Glenda Childress
Glenda Childress

January 27th, 2011, 3:06 pm #9

I agree with Ken Bristow. This solo just has to be Bix. It has that Bix quality of putting the essence of a song or its arrangement in a nutshell, the right-on-pitch sound, and just the right feeling for the spot in which it rests.

If anyone hasn't already seen them, "harryoakley's" notes on why he thinks this is Bix are worth reading on his <em>YouTube</em> posting:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BcL6lSHTpWo
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

January 27th, 2011, 3:59 pm #10

The 1960 'Bugles' discography for the Mason-Dixon sides gives us:
Margulis, Goldfield & Secrest,
Rank,
Tram, Strickfadden & Friedman,
Hayton, Quinn, Leibrook & Marsh.
Recorded 15th May 1929.

Yet to me, the chorus on 'What a Day' is far more convincing as being by Bix than the one on 'Cradle of Love'.

And a possible scenario:
Bix makes an unscheduled visit into the Columbia Studio before recording activity had commenced, and it's agreed he takes the eight bars on 'What a Day' and then doodles around in the background on 'Alabamy'.
Earlier in the year Bix, when off sick, had written to Tram asking for a loan. If his finances were still in a parlous state, Tram may have given him the opportunity here to make a few dollars extra.
Nine days later Whiteman, Bix and the boys left Pennsylvania Station on the Old Gold train bound for Hollywood intending to make the film 'King of Jazz'.
Evans and Evans does not give the names of the musicians, but writes,

<em>"May 15, 1929 -  New York, Columbia Records.</em>

<em>Mason-Dixon Orchestra (Frank Trumbauer Orchestra). Bix did not appear on this or any subsequent recording session. This is the first Trumbauer recording session without Bix, and the first recording for Columbia records as a result of the May 19, 1928 contract."</em>

Evans and Kiner give information about the May 19, 1928 contract.<em> "Trumbauer saw Tommy Rockwell at Okeh records and decided  upon a contract that called for eight man for Okeh and and eleven for Columbia."</em>

I looked up the discographies for Trumbauer in Evans and Kiner for 1928-1929

20 Jan 1928 From Monday On/Mississippi Mud  11 men

3 Apr 1928 Our Bungalow/Lila  10 men

10 Apr 1928 Borneo/My Pet 10 men

5 Jul 1928 Bless You Sister/Dusky Stevedore 9 en (this was recorded in Chicago)

20 Sep 1928 Take Your Tomorrow/Love Affairs/Sentimental Baby 8 men

5 Oct 1928 The Love Nest/The Japanese Sandman/High on a Hilltop/Sentimental Baby 9 men

8 Mar 1929 Futuristic Rhythm/Raisin' the Roof  11 men.

17 Apr 1929 Louise/Wait till You See 'Ma Cherie'Baby Won't You Please Come Home  11 men

30 Apr 1929 No One Can Take Your Place/I Like That  14 men

15 May 1929 What A Day/Alabamy Snow 11 men. The 11 are

Margulis, Goldfield, Secrest t, c 
Rank tb
Tram, Hazlett, Friedman reeds 
Hayton, Lang, Leibrook & Marsh rhythm

21 May 1929 Nobody But You/Got A Feeling for You  11 men

22 May 1929 Shivery Stomp/Reaching for Someone  11 men

18 Sep, 1929; 10 Oct 1929; 15 Oct 1929  11 or 13 men

So the contract that called for 8 men in OK records and 11 in Columbia was not  followed strictly -before or after May 19, 1928 All the above sessions except for May 15, 1929 are OK; May 15, 1929 is a Columbia session.

I gave the above data for the sake of completeness, not because it provides insights.

An old discography - Delaunay 1948 gives for the Mason Dixon session

Secrest, Margulis c, t; Rank tb; Tram, Strickfaden, Friedman reeds; Venuti, vl;  Hayton, Lang, Leibrook, King rhythm.

Are there two or three trumpets in the Mason Dixon recordings? I think two, but I am no good a recognizing the number of instuments in ensemble work. I don't hear a violin. Ray Mitchell does not list this session in Lang's discography. The Mosaic set on Bix and Tram and Teagarden gives

Secrest, Margulis c, t
Rank tb
Tram, Hazlett, Friedman reeds 
Hayton, Lang##, Leibrook & Marsh rhythm   ##Lang on What A Day, unknown in Alabamy Snow - Mike Peters gives possibly Snoozer Quinn as unknown

Albert

 

 
Last edited by ahaim on January 27th, 2011, 4:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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