BIX BEIDERBECKE (VOLUME 2)
Jazz Archives #1000(10”)
Wolverine Orchestra (on #1 and2): Bix Beiderbecke (cnt) Jimmy Hartwell (cl) George Johnson (ts) Dick Voynow (p) Bob Gillette (bj) Min Leibrook (tu) Vic Moore (drs) Richmond, Indiana; May 6 and June 20, 1924
– (on #3 and 4): same personnel: (p) solo on Big Boy by Beiderbecke New York; October 8, 1924
Sioux City Six (#5 nd 6): Berderbeck (cnt) Miff Mole (tb) Frank Trumbauer (as) Rube Bloom (p) Leibrook (tu) Moore (drs) New York; October 11, 1924
Bix and his Rhythm Jugglers (#7 and 8): Beiderbecke (cnt) Tommy Dorsey (tb) Don Murray (cl) Paul Mertz (p) Howdy Quicksell (bj) Tom Gargano (drs) Richmond, Indiana; January 26,1925
1. Susie (2:32) (Naset – Kahn)
2. Tiger Rag (2:32) Original Dixieland Jazz Band)
3. Big Boy (2:49) (Yellen – Ager)
4. Tia Juana (2:55) (Conley – Rodemich)
Sioux City Six
5. I'm Glad (3:05) (Frank Trumbauer)
6. Flock O'Blues (2:39) (Rube Bloom)
7. Toddlin' Blues (2:39) (Nick LaRocca)
8. Davenport Blues (2:44) (Bix Beiderbecke)
This is the second Riverside LP to present reissues of the earliest recordings of BIX BEIDERBECKE (more fully: Leon Bishmarck Beiderbecke; born March 10, 1903, died August 7, 1931), surely one of the most remarkable of jazz musicians, and one whose memory is covered by more legend and emotion than anyone is covered by more legend and emotion than anyone else in the history of the music.*
Bix's career began as member of a small group that has been fondly remembered by the jazz world as The Wolverines - although you'll find that the labels on the rare existing copies of their early Gennett records refer to them more formally as the "Wolverine Orchestra." There'd be no point in denying that the principal reason for remembering this band at all, and for valuing and listening to their records three decades after they were first issued, is the presence of this inspire young cornetist. Beiderbecke was only 21 years old when records such as these first made it quite clear that he was capable of producing some of the most beautiful, moving, soaring, meaningful jazz sounds ever heard. (Writing about Bix inevitably tends to make the adjectives flow readily, but the music seems to more then justify them.)
By 1924 the Wolverines were a highly popular attraction at roadhouses and college dances in a wide area around Chicago. Their friend Hoagy Carmichael had helped considerably at the start by making them practically permanent fixtures at Indiana University fraternity dances, and they had really caught on. The legend of Bix was quick to start - just try asking any middle-aged ex-collegian from those parts, or any ex-Chicago jazzman, and you'll hear all about the drinking and the all-night jam sessions, and the notes he blew out in that cornfield one midnight...
The great talents of Bix were quickly in evidence, too, and fortunately they stand out sharply in the numbers made for Gennett, despite the limitations of the early acoustical recording process. (There were thirteen Wolverine sides: nine were cut at three separate sessions held at the company's Richmond, Indiana studios in the Spring of 1924, the other four made the following Fall, when the band dared a brief invasion of New York. The four non-Wolverine numbers that make up Side 2 complete the recorded picture of his early career.) All the selections reissued here offer noteworthy examples of Bix's clear, round, singing tone, his inventiveness, and his ability to play a driving lead horn. But one by the Wolverine warrants special mention. The piano solo on Big Boy is by Beiderbecke, and thus is the earliest recorded example of his work on this instrument (there are only three or four such records in all). One portion of the Bix legend dwells on his moody, Debussy-tinged piano musings. And even though that belongs to a period that still lay ahead of him, it doesn't seem to stretch the imagination much to hear in this brief passage - as well as in much of his horn work on these early numbers - some fore-taste, very possibly a melancholy advance awareness, of the future: of how brightly and how briefly his flame was to burn.
For these records immediately preceded a hectic half-decade rise to a peak, and over it, that was all that there was to be for Bix. After a short run at New York's Cinderella Ballroom, he parted company with the Wolverines and went on to starring roles, with bands like Jean Goldkette's and Paul Whiteman's, where he was sometimes displayed to starling advantage and sometimes buried under heavy big-band arrangements. He went on also to the high, hard living of the Prohibition '20s - and here, too, he did things harder and faster than most people. He made his last records in 1930, not much more than six years after his first. When he died, of pneumonia, in 1931, he was not much more than 28 years old.
On his first New York trip he had made a sudden and devastation impression on the local jazz crowd, and the pattern of his future career was apparently quickly set. Note that his first non-Wolverine date - only three days after his last records with the gang he'd started out with - included not only Miff Mole (then a major New York jazz figure and a most prolific recording artist) but also Frankie Trumbauer, with whom he was to be closely linked for the rest of the decade. Bix then returned to Chicago, and a few months alter went out to the Gennett studios with a pick-up group including three men - Tommy Dorsey, Mutty, and Quicksell - whom he was fairly shortly to join in the Goldkette orchestra. They made four numbers, the two reissued here and two thoroughly 'lost' selections (never issued, and the masters long since destroyed) of which only the names remain: Magic Blues and No One Knows What It's All About - both reasonably prophetic titles. This session was both his last for Gennett (from then on he belonged to the major labels) and the first to feature his name (released as by "Bix and his Rhythm Jugglers," these were actually first entered in the company's files as by "Leon B. Beiderbecke and his Orchestra"). Davenport Blues, named for Bix's home town in Iowa, was also the first of his compositions to be recorded.
Thus these tunes serve as an almost symbolic close for this pair of LPs, making the end of the first stage in the swift, strange and brilliant career of one of the most important of jazz greats.
A note on the original recordings: Susie (master number GE 11855) was first issued on Gennett 5454; it is the final number of the second (May 6) Wolverine session at Richmond, the other three made that day being included on the preceding Bix LP. Tiger Rag issued on Gennett, although it has appeared in England and on an early, limited-edition reissue label in this country. Tia Juana (GEX 9115) / Big Boy (GEX 9116) were on Ge 5565; Flock O' Blues (GEX 9119) / I'm Glad (GEX 9120) were GE 5569; and Toddlin' Blues (GE 12140) / Davenport Blues (GE 12141) were Ge 5654.
The slight surface noise on this LP is due to the limitations of early recording processes; it has not been entirely removed in order to preserve highest fidelity possible and to give more faithful reproduction of original tone qualities.
*For fuller discussion of Beiderbecke’s life, legend and music. See the notes to the previous album: BIX BEIDERBECKE and the Wolverines (Riverside RLP-1023). The selections on that LP are: Fidgety Feet; Jazz Me Blues; Oh, Baby; Copenhagen; Riverboat Shuffle; Sensation Rag; and Lazy Daddy (two masters)
Produced by Bill Grauer
Notes by Orrin Keepnews
Cover art by Robert J. Lee; typographical design by Gene Gogerty
RIVERSIDE RECORDS are released by BILL BRAUER PRODUCTIONS
418 West 49th Street New York 19, N.Y.