At The Jazz Band Ball
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Many of the bands with whom Bix Beiderbecke played were known as the "blood relative bands" because the people that he played with were so boring it was assumed they only got the jobs because they were Bix's relatives. It has to be owned that there are some pretty horrible vocalists on things like "Oh Gee! Oh Joy!", but like all the other tracks it has a Beiderbecke cornet solo that shines out like a pillar of fire in the night. Beiderbecke was uniquely ahead of his time. He didn't play with the opulent passion or giant technique that Armstrong displayed, but he had such original ideas and such a fine tone that he remains a potent influence on trumpeters to this day. A character from the age of F. Scott Fitzgerald, he was dead at 28 from hard living and self-neglect. The best band he ever played with was Bix Beiderbecke and His Gang, featured on six classic recordings from 1927, including the outstanding "Royal Garden Blues" and "Sorry". The clarinettist Don Murray, a neglected figure of the time, is outstanding, and the unmistakable bass sax of Adrian Rollini at its most ebullient. Bix's own work in the ensemble is definitive and the effect when he emerges for a solo or a break is invariably breath taking. He made a multitude of recordings in a short career, and many of them were with his best friend Frank Trumbauer, an outstanding player who had a clear field on the C-Melody saxophone, probably because nobody else wanted it. None the less he made a good job of his work on the horn, and he and Bix appear in tandem on several of these tracks. There's also a laid back appearance by Bing Crosby on a tune, "Mississippi Mud", that would be untenable in these days of political correctness. --Steve Voce
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The music is happy, happy music. It puts a smile on my face. The fellas in the band sound as if they were having a great time with it. It's hard to imagine that this was the devil's music of its time. There's no soul-searching or deeper meaning to it, other than fun.
Originally, I bought the CD as an exploration into another era, a trip through the time tunnel. Now I can tell that I will be playing it often purely out of pleasure. Nice to meet you, Bix.