Imagine, if you will, a friendly conversation between Bix Beiderbecke and Hugo Gernsback — rendered without a word, in lovely mysterious music — and you have some idea of what follows.
I don’t care to rank artists — let others create pyramids with The Hero(ine) at the apex — but it fascinates me that the collective grief at the death of Bix is so strong that generations of musicians have energized themselves in homages, exact or imaginative. It is as if we cannot endure the fact of his death, so musicians invent contexts in which his glowing spirit can be summoned anew. It used to take the form of copying a Bix solo (SINGIN’ THE BLUES might be the most copied one I know) but that had its limits, so musicians began to imagine alternate universes. What if Bix had played Gershwin? What if we could know what CLOUDY sounded like? And, most recently, how might Bix have sounded on songs of his time and place that he never recorded?
In 2014, an expert and heartfelt group assembled after the Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party — Andy Schumm, cornet; Kristoffer Kompen, trombone; Mauro Porro, reeds; David Boeddinghaus, piano; Frans Sjostrom, bass saxophone; Josh Duffee, drums — to create the CD for Lake Records, called whimsically BIX OFF THE RECORD:
In 2015, the same players — with Michael McQuaid taking Mauro’s place — played another set: the delightful results below. Andy provides commentary as needed.
CATARACT RAY BLUES:
MY BABY’S ARMS:
Beautiful performances of songs that haven’t been overplayed, all in the idiom but expansively imagined.
But wait! There’s more! Andy, Rico Tomasso, and other nobles have recorded a new CD for Lake Records — WHEN LOUIS MET BIX, celebrating hot nights in 1928 Chicago — with Matthias Seuffert, Alistair Allan, Morten Gunnar Larsen, ‘Spats’ Langham, Malcolm Sked, Nicholas D. Ball.
The songs are Ol’ Man River; Milenberg Joys; Chloe; Mandy Make Up your Mind; Who’s It; Put ‘Em Down Blues; Whispering; Manhattan; Skid-Dat-De-Dat; Bessie Couldn’t Help It; Come On and Stomp, Stomp, Stomp; My Melancholy Baby; When She Came To Me; I’m Just Wild About Harry; The Baltimore.
A copy is winging its way to me through the mail. Details (of a digital sort) here.
Thank you, gentlemen — alive and dead.
May your happiness increase!