Finding Bix: The Life and Afterlife of a Jazz Legend.

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Author: Vincent Pelote
Date: Fall 2019
From: ARSC Journal(Vol. 50, Issue 2)
Publisher: Association for Recorded Sound Collections
Document Type: Book review
Length: 1,021 words
Lexile Measure: 1320L

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Finding Bix: The Life and Afterlife of a Jazz Legend. By Brandan Wolfe. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2017. 235pp (paperback). ISBN-13:978-1-60938-506-4. $24.95

First of all, no one should purchase this book thinking its' a biography of jazz cornetist Bix Beiderbecke. Far from it! Beiderbecke, one of the most original voices of early 1920s jazz, was the progenitor of the only other bona fide "school" of jazz trumpet playing other than the dominant one fashioned by Louis Armstrong. What Mr. Wolfe has attempted is to write a book whose purpose is to "set the record straight" and more closely examine the life of an artist who died very young, but whose persona has grown to mythical proportions.

Bix Beiderbecke's story is known by most jazz aficionados; here is the condensed version: Leon Bix Beiderbecke was born in Davenport, Iowa, on March 10, 1903, the son of German immigrants. He was something of a local child prodigy on piano. After listening to his brother's Original Dixieland Jazz Band recordings he was so enthralled by the music, especially the playing of cornetist Nick La Rocca, that he took up the same instrument and taught himself how to play. He eventually dropped out of school and despite his parents' best efforts to keep him away from the jazz world, he wound up playing (and recording) in jazz bands--most notably the Wolverines--and dance orchestras that featured jazz, such as Jean Goldkette's Orchestra and Paul Whiteman's Orchestra. A great admirer of Debussy and other composers of the Impressionist school,...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A613716904