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January 22, 2010


Cpt. Iglo

I stopped reading this after about half a sentence. Or shortly after I saw the word biography, anyway. You know why? No, you don't, so I explain: because I read the fucking Richard M. Sudhalter, Philip R. Evans en William Dean-Myatt book 'Bix - Man & Legend' and realised that three grown men had spent fifteen years, combined, to document Bix's (Bix'? Bixs'? I'm excused, I'm a foreigner) every fart.

That's when I became allergic to the combination of musicians names and the word biography. It has helped me enormously. Saves a lot of time. But what I wanted to say, and almost forgot: It's about the music. Not about the man. Singing the Blues, I'm Coming Virginia, Way Down Yonder In New Orleans. Who played the drums on Rhythm King? Was it Bix, just kicking the base drum?
Oh well, love your blog, hate musicians biographies, that's basically all.

Good night, and good luck.

Brendan Wolfe

You're in good company, Captain. Many people smarter than I agree with you that we should worry about the music and leave the rest alone. And certainly there is nothing stopping them -- and you -- from doing that. But I think that at least some of these folks are being disingenuous when they reject all but the music. After all, our relationship with the music is so intimate, so intense, we're bound to imagine and wonder who is behind it. Where did it come from? Where did he come from? And we're just as bound to be exposed to and influenced by the Beiderbecke legend. It's out there; there's no way to avoid it. I happen to be interested in that. But that's just me.

Like you, though, I do find the every-fart approach to Bix tedious. Thanks for the comment!

Hogwash McCorkle

Like I said, once upon a time: But that is what Bix would do to you. You heard him and it threw your judgement out of kilter.

Cuban Pete

Give Terry Teachout's Armstrong biography, "Pops" a try.
He's a great writer, thinker and a former working jazz musician.
All the Best,


I think the first mention of Bix's arrest was in Geoffrey C. Ward's 2000 book about jazz written in connection with the Ken Burns documentary.

Brendan Wolfe


You're right: Ward's book is the first published mention of the arrest that I know of, but it does not publish or quote from the public documents associated with the arrest, and it garbles the facts in such a way that it suggests, to me at least, that Ward did not actually look at those documents.


I can't think of a single fan of Bix Beiderbecke, who is indifferent to his music. Sure some people, like me, have a great fondness for the guy, about whom so many warm, funny, and interesting stories were told. It's my favorite part about Bix, so sue me. Lol! But if I were so indifferent to his music, I wouldn't have bothered picking up the cornet, at age 33, when I'd never played a music instrument, (outside of drums), in my entire life. I'd say his music made a tremendous impression in order for me to do that.

Brendan Wolfe

Victor Cornet, I'm confused. Did anyone accuse any fans of being indifferent to the music? I accused some fans of being disingenuous when they reject all BUT the music, but I wouldn't accuse anyone of being indifferent. Or did I misunderstand you?


Not you, Brendan. Capt. Iglo: "It's about the music. Not about the man." It was making a connection with the man, that made me listen to his music, and then to start working on the cornet.

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  • The banner image is a detail from Grant Wood’s “Young Corn.” Now owned by the Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Community School District, it was painted in 1931: the same year Bix Beiderbecke died and a year after Wood painted “American Gothic.”

So Sayeth Snoop

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So Sayeth Merle

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