From the Record Shelves #193


LP Raretone RTR 24004

There was a time—it seems long ago now—when all the early recordings of jazz were not available. Originals were hard to come by, and the reissues were not plentiful. It was an exciting age in which you discovered new things. For instance, to hear a new solo by Bix Beiderbecke was heavenly. All the classic sides with The Wolverines, Bix and his Gang, and Frankie Trumbauer’s Orchestra were played over and over again, but still, there were a few jewels waiting to be heard out there somewhere, and they were mostly on the commercial sides with Paul Whiteman, that may have seemed too “unjazzy” to put out on a record, and trying to find an audience for them. But the myth of Bix was strong, so discs like this one saw the light of day in the 60s or early 70s.

The typical Whiteman arrangement on this one may be hard to take on a jazz record, but there is nothing we can do about it now, ninety-plus years later. And isn’t it terrific with the contrast—to hear a door open to another world when it’s finally time for the light solo of Bix, like everything comes to life suddenly?

It was the last session (September 18, 1928) that Bix made with Whiteman before his first breakdown from alcoholism, and sadly, he was never the same, above all musically speaking, after that.