Tag Archives: Michael Supnick

BIX 2003: WILBER, DAVERN, PLETCHER, SJOSTROM, NICHOLS, PATRUNO, STEIN, FORBES, SAGER, GANDA at ASCONA

Thanks to Michael Supnick and his YouTube channel (“Michaelsjazz”) here are performances from the 2003 Ascona Jazz Festival, featuring a group of musicians connected to the sometimes-fanciful film about Bix Beiderbecke.  I believe it was called BIX: AN INTERPRETATION OF A LEGEND, and its intent was more homage than history.   

The full band includes the remarkable Kenny Davern and Bob Wilber, with Tom Pletcher on cornet, David Sager on trombone, Frans Sjostrom on bass sax, Keith Nichols on piano, Joel Forbes, bass, Lino Patruno on banjo, Walter Ganda on drums, and Andy Stein on violin.  

Let’s begin with JAZZ ME BLUES:

Bix never recorded ROSES OF PICARDY, but I would guess that he played this World War One melody:

We know he worked magic on SOMEBODY STOLE MY GAL:

Andy Stein and Lino Patruno become Venuti and Lang for a few minutes on STRINGING THE BLUES:

On MARGIE, Sjostrom is characteristically majestic and mobile:

Joel Forbes replaces Frans for I’LL BE A FRIEND WITH PLEASURE:

Finally, with everyone on board — here’s a rocking but not-too-fast ROYAL GARDEN BLUES:

And a “Chicagoan” version of CHINA BOY, notable for Sager’s shouting solo and the pleasure on Davern’s face during Stein’s solo:

Behind the musicians, visible in flashes, are scenes from the film, for which a version of this band provided the appropriate soundtrack.

Bix never got to Europe, but his music certainly did.  It was alive and lively in 20003 (his centennial) and continues to be.

ALBERT NICHOLAS / CHARLIE BEAL, 1966

Here’s a sprightly version of I FOUND A NEW BABY, recorded in Italy in 1966 — Albert Nicholas (clarinet), Charlie Beal (piano) and an unidentified but highly competent bassist and drummer.  Thanks to Michael Supnick (“Michaelsjazz” on YouTube) for sharing this with us — not only for Albert’s luscious, sweet-tart tone and Charlie Beal’s two-handed piano, but for the happy young audience behind them, having a good time!

ONE MORE FOR BIX: Bern, 1993

The “New York All-Stars” were Randy Sandke, cornet; Dan Barrett, trombone; Ken Peplowski, clarinet; Scott Robinson, C-melody and bass saxophones; Mark Shane, piano; Marty Grosz, guitar / vocal . . . and a bassist and drummer I don’t quite recognize: Gregor Beck and Dave Ratajczak?  Someone will enlighten me.  This concert from 1993 in Berne was televised, and “michaelsjazz” (that’s cornetist Michael Supnick) on YouTube has posted clear videos on YouTube.  Possibly familiar . . . but how young they all look, and how nicely they balance the Bix “originals” with their own inspired improvisations!

Let’s begin with a hot reading of MY PRETTY GIRL, which shows why the Jean Goldkette band scared its competitors (including the Henderson band) to bits:

Here’s SORRY:

And a fast RIVERBOAT SHUFFLE, which easily moves into Fifties Condon territory to good effect:

Ken Peplowski hates the obligatory comparison to Goodman, but here, he, Mark Shane and the rhythm tear through CHINA BOY in a way that does recall the great 1936 trio:

Since very little could be faster than that, here’s Mark Shane’s quietly respectful solo IN A MIST:

And a nice minor THERE AIN’T NO SWEET MAN THAT’S WORTH THE SALT OF MY TEARS, with Marty Grosz stepping in for young Mr. Crosby:

Something more positive in the name of Romance — Walter Donaldson’s jaunty BECAUSE MY BABY DON’T MEAN MAYBE NOW with neat interludes from Shane and Dan Barrett:

Dan Barrett goes beyond the superlatives, as far as I’m concerned: here he takes the pretty but little-played WAIT ‘TILL YOU SEE ‘MA CHERIE’ as his feature:

And a feature for Marty Grosz, whose mixture of Hot, sincerity, and mockery is irreplaceable — CHANGES:

Then, an instrumental version of CANDLELIGHTS (does this draw upon Joe Lippman’s arrangement for Bunny Berigan, I wonder?):

I’m not wild about the idea of running SINGIN’ THE BLUES and I’M COMIN’ VIRGINIA together, but perhaps that is the only way to handle two ground-breaking ballad masterpieces (and Randy’s playing of Bix’s solos is beyond compare — as is Marty’s Eddie Lang):

And FIDGETY FEET, paying homage to Bix and to the generations that came after, doing him honor on the bandstand and in the recording studios: