Whiteman, Bix's mother and Bix.

Whiteman, Bix's mother and Bix.

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

December 15th, 2010, 1:09 am #1


I often cited the statement by Bix's mother to the reporter of the Davenport Democrat and Leader.

"[color=#003300" size="4]"We can always tell when Bix's horn comes in," says his mother."We know everytime Paul Whiteman's orchestra is on the air and Leon knows we'll be listening in. The air is carried out by the other cornetist but the sudden perky blare and the unexpected trills-those are the jazz parts and they are Leon's."[/color]

Here is the page from the newspaper with the article of interest.



You will see that the date of this article is Apr 25, 1928.

The day before, Apr 24, 1928, the Davenport Democrat and Leader carried a story about the Paul Whiteman radio program over the NBC network (WOC, the local Davenport radio station was part of the network). Here is the piece.



You will notice that Whiteman was going to play Ferde Grofe new symphonic jazz composition, "Blue Fantasy." It turns out that this is "Metropolis" which has the subtitle "A Fantasy in Blue."

Albert
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Alberta
Alberta

December 15th, 2010, 12:04 pm #2

This has always bothered me about this: Why is Bix's mother calling him Leon? To me, this puts the whole piece in doubt. I thought no one ever called him Leon, from day one.
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Glenda Childress
Glenda Childress

December 15th, 2010, 1:51 pm #3

I wondered about her use of "Leon" here as well.

I just assumed that since her husband, Herman Bismarck, has also been called "Bix" from childhood, that many of his friends still referred to him by that nickname, and therefore Aggie Beiderbecke was using Leon Bix's first name to distinguish between the two Bixes. In the context of the newpaper article, that seems unnecessary, but perhaps it was just her habit in talking about the two of them and she was just following that precedent.

I remember from Sudhalter's biography that Burnie (who was temporarily called "Little Bix" as a tot) reported the confusion in the household when he was still living at home after his return from the Army, asking telephone callers <em>which</em> Bix they wanted--the coal man, the soldier, or the musician? He also sometimes referred to Leon Bix as "The Bix" to distinguish between the nicknamed Bixes and the officially christened Bix.

Perhaps Aggie really liked the name "Leon," for some unknown reason and chose to use it when it made sense to do so. I've never read that it was a family name on her side of the family, but perhaps there was some connection that led her to give the name to her second son. Any other ideas?
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

December 15th, 2010, 2:17 pm #4

This has always bothered me about this: Why is Bix's mother calling him Leon? To me, this puts the whole piece in doubt. I thought no one ever called him Leon, from day one.
.... from Bix's mother to Bix. We don't really know how Bix's mother referred to her younger son. We have letters from Bix to his mother and to his mother and father. Most letters from Lake Forest Academy are signed LBB. There is one from May 31, 1922 to his mother where Bix signs the letter "Leon." There is the unfinished letter of Jul 30, 1931 where, according to Evans and Evans, the notation "Bixie's letter, never finished" was added in his mother's handwriting. Are there samples of Bix's mother handwiring for comparison? There are also a couple of letters from 1931 to his parents signed "Bix." In a 1930 letter from Bix's father to Marie Louise, Bix is referred to as "Bickie."

The bottom line, we don't have documentation that speaks to the question of how Bix's mother referred to Bix. Perhaps, it was Bickie or Bixie, or Bix, or even Leon. It is possible that in talking to the reporter, she was trying to be more formal, hence the name "Leon." She also used the name "Bix" in the first sentence of the quotation. We don't really know.

Albert
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Ken Bristow
Ken Bristow

December 15th, 2010, 3:35 pm #5

Can we assume this article from the Democrat to be 100% genuine? Remember the recent discoveries regarding the "Jazz is Musical Humor" piece on Bix on the 10th February 1929 in the Sunday Democrat. Turned out to be not quite what it always previously appeared. Perhaps the same reporter was responsible for both articles?
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Gerri Bowers
Gerri Bowers

December 15th, 2010, 3:49 pm #6

I wondered about her use of "Leon" here as well.

I just assumed that since her husband, Herman Bismarck, has also been called "Bix" from childhood, that many of his friends still referred to him by that nickname, and therefore Aggie Beiderbecke was using Leon Bix's first name to distinguish between the two Bixes. In the context of the newpaper article, that seems unnecessary, but perhaps it was just her habit in talking about the two of them and she was just following that precedent.

I remember from Sudhalter's biography that Burnie (who was temporarily called "Little Bix" as a tot) reported the confusion in the household when he was still living at home after his return from the Army, asking telephone callers <em>which</em> Bix they wanted--the coal man, the soldier, or the musician? He also sometimes referred to Leon Bix as "The Bix" to distinguish between the nicknamed Bixes and the officially christened Bix.

Perhaps Aggie really liked the name "Leon," for some unknown reason and chose to use it when it made sense to do so. I've never read that it was a family name on her side of the family, but perhaps there was some connection that led her to give the name to her second son. Any other ideas?
I have no evidence of this. Rich and I always beleive that the name Leon may have come from Aggie's father. His name was B. L. Hilton. They named Charles after his grandfather and it would seem possible she named her second son after her father and her husband. All my wills, obits and legal papers sometimes save his first name, but none say his middle name. It is always written B. L. Hilton.
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

December 15th, 2010, 5:03 pm #7

Can we assume this article from the Democrat to be 100% genuine? Remember the recent discoveries regarding the "Jazz is Musical Humor" piece on Bix on the 10th February 1929 in the Sunday Democrat. Turned out to be not quite what it always previously appeared. Perhaps the same reporter was responsible for both articles?
.... was responsible for the two articles. There are no name attributions.

A lot of what is included in the Apr 25, 1928 article is quite specific to Whiteman and Bix.

- There is no question that in 1928 Bix played "In A Mist" in Whiteman concerts and radio broadcasts. Rayno gives the complete program for the May 1, 1928 radio program broadcast from Boston: "In A Mist" (piano solo by Bix) is listed.

- There is information about a Bix fellow musician (Challis, undoubtedly) who helps Bix with the scoring.

- Most of the facts in the article can be corroborated: three years in Davenport high school one year in Lake Forest Academy, Bix took lessons, Bix helped his father with the coal business, Bix is 25 years old.

- We know that Bix was in touch with his parents as one of Whiteman's musicians. Remember the article in the Cleveland Press with Bix's comments on the side?

A google search of the phrase "perky blare" gives 5 hits, all associated with the newspaper article. A google search of the phrase "unexpected trills" produces 156 results. The expression is rather common and the earliest hits are found in writings from the 19th century. There is one about sax player Craig Handy that could have been writen about Bix: "One highpoint is "Celia," where Handy, preceded by Hanna and followed by Newton, takes a fine tenor chorus <strong>full of unexpected trills and deep lyricism</strong>. "

All in all, I think there is no need for plagiarism in this mostly factual account.

Albert
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Laura Demilio
Laura Demilio

December 15th, 2010, 7:07 pm #8

I wondered about her use of "Leon" here as well.

I just assumed that since her husband, Herman Bismarck, has also been called "Bix" from childhood, that many of his friends still referred to him by that nickname, and therefore Aggie Beiderbecke was using Leon Bix's first name to distinguish between the two Bixes. In the context of the newpaper article, that seems unnecessary, but perhaps it was just her habit in talking about the two of them and she was just following that precedent.

I remember from Sudhalter's biography that Burnie (who was temporarily called "Little Bix" as a tot) reported the confusion in the household when he was still living at home after his return from the Army, asking telephone callers <em>which</em> Bix they wanted--the coal man, the soldier, or the musician? He also sometimes referred to Leon Bix as "The Bix" to distinguish between the nicknamed Bixes and the officially christened Bix.

Perhaps Aggie really liked the name "Leon," for some unknown reason and chose to use it when it made sense to do so. I've never read that it was a family name on her side of the family, but perhaps there was some connection that led her to give the name to her second son. Any other ideas?
I thought within the immediate family itself, with all the Bixes; their dad, Burnie, and "the" Bix, that even in adulthood Bix was usually, or at least often, still referred to as Bickie. I believe that was cited with a a letter in Rich and Gerri's book that Bismark wrote to Mary Louise, when Bix was at home with them recuperating in early 1930, and their dad refers to how nice it was to have Bickie around the house with them again.

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

December 15th, 2010, 7:19 pm #9

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