Leon “Bix” Beiderbecke Birthday: Born March 10, 1903
At the very dawn of jazz recording, with echoes of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band still in the air, very few musicians were able to capture a fresh new sound until the flood gates opened with the blossoming of Louis Armstrong. Naturally, there were exceptions like Sidney Bechet or Earl Hines, but, for the most part, it was the powerful virtuosic display of Armstrong that made the Roaring 20s the era of “hot jazz”. It wasn’t long, however, before another highly individual talent emerged.
On February 18, 1924, less than a year after Armstrong cut his first records, a young cornetist from Davenport, Iowa named Bix Beiderbecke made his recording debut. By the late twenties he had ushered in a striking new approach to the jazz solo concept by making it cool. His improvisations were more relaxed, melodic, and graced with inspirations from impressionistic and modern tonal composers including Ravel, Debussy, Stravinsky and the lesser-known Eastwood Lane. His tone has been likened to that of a bell or a mallet on a chime; Eddie Condon said Bix’s tone was like a girl saying “yes”.
His brief and troubled life became legendary and emblematic, inspiring a best-selling novel and a full-length motion picture. What’s important is that Bix remains one the most musically brilliant figures of any period in jazz.
- Alan Goodman, Mosaic Records Brochure