Joined: 4:56 PM - Mar 15, 2018

4:17 PM - Aug 07, 2018 #11

Certainly, alcoholism generates an isolation and separation that can be devastating. But Bix seems to have leaned back against that, and sustained friendships and intimate relationships as best he could.

And, many of Bix's contemporaries were almost as impaired as he was. But THEY survived long enough to leave less mysterious legacies. Armstrong wasn't an alcohlic, but what sense of him would we have if he had died at 28? Let alone Bix's hard-drinking cohort: Dorsey, Carmichael, Condon, Spanier etc.
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Joined: 11:32 PM - Mar 24, 2018

5:30 PM - Aug 07, 2018 #12

I'm not so sure Teachout is totally off-base. Aside from his family, a couple of more-or-less serious girlfriends and Frank Trumbauer (with whom Bix seemed to have what modern-day screenwriters call a "bromance," a non-sexual but emotionally intense friendship), Bix doesn't seem to have been that close to too many people. A lot of people who knew him well wrote that Bix never seemed to be "part of the crowd" no matter how many photos there are of him with his bandmates. Remember that Teachout is also a biographer of Louis Armstrong, who was as dramatically different from Bix in his open gregariousness and love of the company of other people as he was as a musician.

I'm surprised John Coffin bought into the legend (created by Tommy Dorsey and George Simon in the 1930's) that the only reason two of the four tunes planned for the "Bix and His Rhythm Jugglers" date weren't released was the musicians were too drunk to perform properly. Phil Evans' discography, which quotes from the original Gennett recording files, makes it clear that the two sides that weren't released were rejected for technical, not musical, reasons.
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Joined: 11:08 PM - Mar 15, 2018

6:42 PM - Aug 08, 2018 #13

I couldn't download Albert's lecture, me and computers, but I don't think we should leave this thread with it leaving the impression Bix was somehow limited or inadequate. Especially when I think all my other favourite musical geniuses have similar stories told about them. It's like these guys were very conscious of the gift they were endowed with, worked like madmen to develop it, avoided distractions sometimes creating misinterpretations or misfortunes, and did whatever they could to give this precious gift to the world; lifting colleagues and listeners alike with the glory of it. You see, as noted, in some of Albert's pictures Bix looks three sheets, but still on the records music is always sacred and he's always spot on. The only exception I know; with its special circumstances, is the mighty Sugar; which so shocks so  many golden ears they refuse to accept it could be Bix. I see from a recent YouTube Messrs Coffin and Eekoff  have joined the dark side with Hans blaming it o the hapless Don Murray. Now cut that out, Hans! ha ha.
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Joined: 6:05 AM - Mar 15, 2018

9:12 PM - Aug 08, 2018 #14

Far better to accept the word "opaque" and move on.
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Joined: 11:08 PM - Mar 15, 2018

1:59 AM - Aug 09, 2018 #15

No never Cosca. I know you're sharp as a tack, but you're dead wrong here. The man was on a mission, how can you say otherwise. I'm sure I remember reading his contemporaries saying he only cared about music and getting it right. You'd never call his music opaque, why would the person who made it, be so?. And moving on? No more biographies? That's how us mortals walk with the gods, by learning of and studying the lives and works of the great contributors to our lives.
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Joined: 4:56 PM - Mar 15, 2018

4:43 PM - Aug 09, 2018 #16

Well, Dorsey was an actual witness... Bix was impaired on the job enough for the 'Wake up Bix' note in Margulis' trumpet 'book.'

No one who is 'lazy' is going to master any brass instrument as well as Bix did. 

I was struck by the quote from Manone in Albert's powerpoint. It was as if he resented Bix wanting to do more than play generic 'hot.' At least some of Bix's oddball reputation can be laid to the notion that he was head and shoulders above most of his contemporaries. 

There IS a strangeness around Bix. The letters about 'Alice' are certainly disturbing in their evasiveness.
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Joined: 11:08 PM - Mar 15, 2018

2:20 AM - Aug 27, 2018 #17

I wonder if Bix scholarship has turned a page. Maybe Cosca had something when she saw him as becoming 'opaque' .My sister has a saying when you get old you start to turn invisible. A dozen years back here it seemed people were still feeling the anguish of losing him, still trying to reach out and feel his presence with the 'Bix Lives' and then there was various claims of guys who knew a guy who knew the guy and had information of his personal life that they wouldn't pass down because it was too intimate thereby giving a degree of separation back thing. Now maybe there's another step away as time goes on and Bix becomes more of an historical figure. How to reconcile that with the sense of feeling his soulfulness and knowing him through his music, I do not know.

It's not that he's going anywhere, though. All that talk of Virginia made me crave the real thing. The video I put on had a quarter of a million views. Same with that compilation video Albert put up on his day. He's not quite Justin Beiber, but Bix is a video star. Some great comments on them too. Too bad they don't come here. One guy mentions his mother in law or someone dancing with Tram and Bix
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Joined: 12:00 AM - Jan 01, 1970

12:55 PM - Aug 27, 2018 #18

"I wonder if Bix scholarship has turned a page." Indeed, Carl. 

The first important Bix biography was titled "Bix, Man and Legend." The last "Bix: The Definitive Biography of a Jazz Legend. " In between we had "Bix: The Leon Bix Beiderbecke Story." (Sadly, a step backward was taken with "Finding Bix.")

As Bix researchers have  gathered more documented data about Bix, the legend has been fading away and the "real" Bix has come into focus. Moreover, times are a-changing: what I would refer to as the innocence/simplicity of the 1970s is being replaced by the realism/cynicism of the 21st century; rigorous scholarship in jazz history has become the norm and the fanciful approach of the last century has been abandoned.
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Joined: 6:05 AM - Mar 15, 2018

6:38 AM - Aug 29, 2018 #19

I see I need to clarify "opaque". I meant that Bix himself provides limited aid in understanding him, except through his music. Even that requires our interpretation. 

Long before his disturbing Alice letters, Bix was a difficult person to pierce through - often as a consequence of his deliberate evasion. At other times, his indirection appears unconscious. It would have been helpful if Bix had kept a diary, rather than leaving that task for Phil Evans! But I can honestly think of few things more unlike Bix than keeping a diary.

Part of the enduring mystery can be attributed to Bix's dying young, part to alcoholism, part to the reluctance or inability of those who *had* spent time with him to offer intimate details. Frankly (since I am no gentleman and do not share Bix's distaste for criticizing others) having bothered to find a girlfriend in St. Louis - one who DID keep a diary! - why pick one as unintelligent as Ruth? Was it too casual to think about? Was that deliberate too?

Aside from Ruth and Alice - and some feebly hinted "other woman" - there are a paucity of probable intimate relationships. As disappointing as that would have been for Bix, it's scarcely more satisfying for Us.

Allow me this once to prioritize Us. By now, we've earned it.
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Joined: 4:56 PM - Mar 15, 2018

4:42 PM - Aug 29, 2018 #20

If anything, its surprising how much we DO know of Bix. Genius, disease, and privacy all make perfect knowledge impossible.

I'm reminded a bit of people who claim Shakespeare didn't write his own plays. They fill in the real-life gaps in history with all sorts of fancies. One of the best responses to this is to point out that our knowledge of every other writer of that period is at least as incomplete.

Improved scholarship does improve our knowledge. The identification of 'Alice' opened up quite a bit of information about Bix's last months. On the other hand, Bix's arrest records, or the claim of a 'fling' with Eugene Berton devolve into dead ends. Even the 'hard' documentation of the former leaves a mystery, and the unsupported second-hand memory of the latter only leaves us scratching our heads.
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