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1927-1930
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  • Personnel includes: Bix Beiderbecke And His Gang, Hoagy Carmichael And His Orchestra, Irving Mills And His Hotsy Totsy Gang, Bix Beiderbecke And His Orchestra.
  • This is the second volume in the all-too-brief Classics Bix Beiderbecke chronology. It presents all 13 Okeh Records cut by Beiderbecke & His Gang between October 5, 1927 and September 21, 1928, followed by Beiderbecke's very last recordings, made between May 21 and September 15, 1930 for the Victor, Vocalion and Brunswick labels. He is heard leading his own band and sitting in with Hoagy Carmichael's orchestra as well as Irving Mills & His Hotsy Totsy Gang. Three years into his brief recording career, Beiderbecke was already beginning to feel confined by the artistic limitations of the entertainment industry. In his excellent and insightful novel-length tribute "Remembering Bix," Ralph Berton recalled his final encounter with Beiderbecke, which took place during the autumn of 1927 shortly before Bix began working for Paul Whiteman. Berton describes their conversation as they listened to the recently waxed Bix & His Gang sides. Although Berton rightfully perceived that some of these were among the hottest and best of Beiderbecke's recordings, Bix was not entirely happy with the results, and even threatened to destroy the master of "Goose Pimples" which was soon issued as Okeh 8544. During this performance he momentarily intruded upon the opening of Frank Signorelli's piano solo, became frustrated and tossed off what he later called a "phony Charleston lick," then responded to gesticulations made by an engineer urging him to finish up before they ran out of room on the disc by letting loose with a couple of very atypical high notes, sharp and fortissimo. Beiderbecke was horrified, incredulous and ultimately contemptuous when the session's producers went ahead and issued what is demonstrably a botched take. Yet in retrospect the excitement of hot jazz transforms even these obvious flaws into personable idiosyncrasies. All 13 sides are anchored with beefy bass saxophones, handled expertly by Adrian Rollini or ably by Min Leibrook. Like the turning of a page, the '30s began for Beiderbecke with a series of collaborations hinting at potential developments that either blossomed or withered away. With names like Benny Goodman, Jack Teagarden, Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, Bud Freeman, Gene Krupa, Hoagy Carmichael and violinist Joe Venuti (who can be heard bawdily intoning the words "Barnacle Bill the Shit-head" in a raspy voice), this home stretch of the Beiderbecke discography reads like a "most likely to succeed" roster. Yet three gifted participants would soon be taken out 'way ahead of schedule; guitarist Eddie Lang was soon to die from complications following a tonsillectomy, Ellington's ex-trumpeter Bubber Miley was already in the process of drinking himself into an early grave, and Bix Beiderbecke's days were numbered. On August 6, 1931 he succumbed to alcoholism and pneumonia at the age of 28. The music on this compilation is an essential portion of his legacy. ~ arwulf arwulf
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