Pavel Pitra writes on 4/2/99:My father who listens to Bix for more than 30 years and is a trumpet player with good ears and good bixian feeling also thinks that the Raderman's recordings don't feature Bix.
Eekhoff writes on 4/26/99: Bix
not on the Lou Raderman sides (nrs. 141,142 and 143 of your
Mannie Klein personally told me in 1976 after hearing two sides on an
that it is he who takes the solos. Mannie was very sure about this and
he wrote and signed it on the sleeve of my
LP. I myself never thought it sounded anything like Bix.Hans
adds on 5/10/99: Included is a photocopy of the sleeve of Broadway
LP 104 "It Sounds Like Bix" on which Mannie Klein wrote in
Holland in 1976 "To Hans, But it is me--4-5
Mannie Klein". 4-5 refers to tracks 4 and 5, respectively, "Ol Man River" and "Why Do I Love You" by Lou Raderman and His Pelham Heath Inn Orchestra. Mannie insisted very clearly that he was not just one of the trumpeters, but that he actually played the solos. I never thought it was Bix; both solos being "rushed" and without Bix unmistakable timing. Mannie also said that he wasn't trying to imitate Bix at all. Anybody who is familiar with Mannie's playing will agree that he is more than capable of producing a solo like that. As for Raderman's comment: I think that maybe he remembered Bix playing with his band (very possible, see Charley Straight's claims and other similar cases) and was probably unintentionally steered in the direction of Bix playing the date by an enthusiastic collector/interviewer who had just found a copy of this Harmony. Anyway, Mannie was so sure that, to me, the case is clear.
Scott Black writes on 5/4/99: Tossing a grenade into the crowd, I do think it is Bix on the Raderman sides. I can't think of another cornet player who could get that sound on an acoustic record, only on the Broadway Bell Hops sides can you hear that sound. I think Bix was trying not to sound like Bix on that side.
December 22, 1997
Just as sightings of Elvis, Bigfoot and UFOs are continuously reported, collectors of early jazz 78s are still keen on announcing new performances byBix Beiderbecke on previously overlooked records. The most recent such"discovery," published in this space as apparent fact, concerned an "unissuedtake" of the OKeh version of "Snake Rag" by King Oliver's Jazz Band. We were asked to believe that on this newly found item, Bix could be heard, many months before his first sides with the Wolverines, and that a cassette tape of it reposed with you, the editor. Never mind that a new take of "Snake Rag" would be sensational news all by itself, without any help from Bix! Never mind why King Oliver would want to add a third cornet (and a white guy, at that) to an already top-heavy ensemble! Never mind how the nimble-eared collector who submitted this gem could identify Bix, of all people, amidst this polyphonic forest of horns! The point is, we were asked to believe this, and so far in JJJ, no one has even raised an eyebrow! What is going on here? Have we lost our collective musical minds?
I dredge up this sordid matter because after thirty years of collecting andlistening to Bix, I wonder why I should bother, amidst such tabloid goings-on,to single out a record that I feel can withstand the closest musical andhistorical scrutiny, and may fairly be put forward as a previously unidentified Bix performance. Oh, well...
The record is "Cradle of Love," Brunswick 4233, by Ray Miller and hisOrchestra (not to be confused with "Rainbow of Love," by the Broadway Bellhops on Harmony). It was brought to my attention by Jim Lindsay of Indianapolis, who sent a cassette of it, and asked, "Do you think it might be Bix?"
Recorded in Chicago on January 24, 1929, along with "My Angeline" and "Mississippi, Here I Am," "Cradle of Love" (mx. C-2857) is an unpretentiousfox trot performance of a Wayne and Gilbert potboiler tune that sounds like a cheap knockoff of "Makin' Whoopee." There is an introduction and full chorus in B-flat by the band, then a sixteen-bar verse on open hot trumpet by the inimitable Muggsy Spanier. Next is a vocal refrain by the regrettable BobNolan. A four-bar trombone modulation leads to the key of A-flat and asixteen-bar hot cornet solo. The trombone takes the bridge, then the fullband comes in at the last eight to finish the chorus, and the record. It is that half-chorus of hot cornet that concerns us.
Rather than Muggsy coming back for another solo, it is another player. The sound is distinctly Bixian, with the correlated phrasing, careful choice ofnotes, sureness of pitch and loveliness of tone that we identify with him.There is also a tentative quality, a slight unsteadiness of beat, and seemingshortness of breath that could open the identity of the player to debate.Leaving musical analysis aside for a moment, the first logical question thatarises is: knowing what we do about Bix's activities at the time, can he bedefinitively ruled out as the performer?
Abstracting from Evans and Sudhalter's Bix - Man and Legend, we learn that toward the middle of December, 1928, Bix Beiderbecke's health had deteriorated to the point where he came down with pneumonia. He spent about a week in a New York hospital, during which time he was forced to quit drinking - an abstainance he voluntarily continued after being discharged. By New Year's, 1929, though weakened and irritable, he was back on the job with Paul Whiteman. The band played in New York for a couple of weeks, jumped to Cincinnatti for the week of January 13th to 19th, then arrived in Cleveland on January 20th. Bix didn't make the concert that evening. His frail condition combined with abruptly being on the wagon resulted in a sudden violent fit of delerium tremens. He smashed up a hotel room full of furniture, and on January 21st, a very concerned Paul Whiteman put him in the care of a male nurse, with instructions to send Bix home to Davenport as soon as possible. However, Bix did not go home. According to S. & E., he "escaped" his nurse, and the next time anyone saw him was on February 3rd, in New York, when he was found in his hotel room, beaten up and bleeding.
This unhappy period in Bix's life therefore includes a stretch of almost twoweeks when his whereabouts are unaccounted for - two weeks that includeJanuary 24th, the date "Cradle of Love" was recorded. On the basis of hardbiographical evidence, then, Bix cannot be ruled out as the cornetist on thisrecord.
the music itself, the language used in the solo is consistentwith Bix's
vocabulary and syntax. The thinking correlates with many of
utterances. The accompanying transcription shows this pretty
for the sound of the horn, I have taken fragments of solos from known
such as "I'm Coming Virginia," "Loved One," "Lila" and others, and
them to similar moments from the "Cradle of Love" solo, and they match
uncannily in attack, tone and vibrato, though not in force
The slight shakiness and physical weakness evidenced in the solois
in accord with Bix's diminished condition at the time, andindeed,
his unhealthy state during the rest of the year. Although by1929
there were many Bix imitators, none of them came this close on record
his actual sound, his musical "fingerprints." Maybe a voice print
would prove definitive.
Suppose it is Bix, then. It is easy to imagine how it might have happened:Following Paul Whiteman's directions, the nurse put Bix on an Iowa-bound train as soon as it could be arranged. Alone in the day coach heading west from Cleveland, the thought of returning to Davenport and his family in disgrace must have increasingly terrified him. When the train stopped in Chicago, Bix got off. Here, at least, he could temporarily forget his troubles and look up some of his old pals, like Muggsy Spanier. Bix would have been pleased to learn that Muggsy had recently joined Ray Miller's band. After all, it was Ray Miller who introduced Bix to Frank Trumbauer, back in '24.
Perhaps Muggsy took Bix to the Brunswick studio, where Miller and his boys would have greeted him as a celebrity, and maybe persuaded the still-shaky cornetist to play on one of the tunes. Cutting a sixteen-bar slot for Bix in the stock arrangement of "Cradle of Love" would have been no problem, although it resulted in the extremely unusual presentation of two hot trumpet soloists on one side of an ordinary dance record.
devil's advocate, some of the Whiteman musicians recalledyears later
Bix stayed in his Cleveland hotel room the whole week theywere in town
- that is, until January 26th. However, I don't think Bix
languished there for seven days when Paul Whiteman wanted to get him
as quickly as possible. On the off chance that the "Cradle of
cornetist might have been one of the regular players in the band, I
checked several other Miller sides from this period, but there was no
sign of him. If, in the end, this turns out to be some other
he is, to my ears, altogether the most convincing player from the
who "sounds like Bix." Right now, though, I'm in love with this
and I'll stick to
session by Ray Miller and his Orchestra took place in the same studio
days later - January 28th, 1929 - still within this mysteryperiod of
life - and produced versions of "Some of These Days" and"Tiger Rag" (!)
both supposedly released on "Brunswick Special." I've
'em. Has anybody? Catch my drift? Now get out your
and start digging!
July 25, 1998
Let us dispense with this "Snake Rag with Bix" item before it gets too ripe!Thanks (again) to Jim Lindsay, I have a tape of this "discovery" and now passit on to you. It was first heard on the April Fools (4/1/84) edition of "The Jazz Band Ball" on WPFW-FM, Washington, D.C. With tongue riveted to cheek, the show's host, Dave Robinson, coolly announced this "find," which turned out to be the usual (8391-A) take of the Oliver Okeh, with hot breaks cleverly spliced in from such Bix records as "Fidgety Feet," "Sensation" and the Tram "Riverboat Shuffle."
As an April Fools gag, it was a total hoot. But for Dan Mahoney, whom I have credited as a serious researcher - i.e., his "Columbia 13 - 14000-D" book - to insist and then to re-insist that this thing is real, is at least annoying andat worst misleading and irresponsible.
Dan also misread my letter about "Cradle of Love," so I have to clean up that mess, too.
My point in writing about "Cradle" was that it is still possible to hunt forsigns of Bix on obscure records without having to resort to outright fiction."Cradle of Love" may be controversial, but at least it is real.
I have suggested that a weakened Bix may be the author of the half-chorus of cornet after the vocal. I can support this contention musically by comparing fragments of the solo to similar fragments from known Bix records that match uncannily in attack, sustain, vibrato, pitch and rhythm - subtleties no imitator could have matched.
I can also support the idea of Bix being in Chicago on the recording date byciting the known facts of his whereabouts, which do not preclude this placeand time. I offered a hypothetical scenario that had Bix heading home toDavenport on a train from Cleveland (not from New York, Mr. Mahoney!). Any train between those two cities would have to at least pass through, and most likely stop in, Chicago. The rest of the story - Bix getting off, looking upMuggsy Spanier, ending up in the Brunswick studio, etc. - is not wild imagining, but a close-fetched extrapolation based on fact, deductive logicand the musically supportable notion that it is Bix on the record.
to be a "Jazz Journal," which I take to mean a forum forimprovisatory
about our favorite music and musicians. I would welcome
any thoughtful remarks about "Cradle of Love." Anyone who wants
hear "Cradle" and the musical analysis of the solo can do so if they
me a blank cassette and a S.A.S.E.
August 15, 1998
massively revised Bix biography has new
information that contradicts my theory of Bix being in Chicago to record with Ray Miller and his Orchestra.* According to Phil, on January 24, 1929, thedate the Ray Miller "Cradle of Love" was recorded, with its astoundingly Bix-like 16-bar solo, Bix himself was in a Cleveland hospital under strictsupervision, recovering from his spell of delirium tremens. While this newfact dashes my pet scenario all to hell, it only enhances the mystery of thesolo itself.
[*- this information did not appear in the book. I got it from Phil himselfover the phone, and assumed it would appear in print. It did not.]
cuts to the next probability: that one of the two trumpetsection men in
Miller's band - Max Connett or Lloyd Wallen - was able to dothe most
impression of Bix, right down to the terminal vibrato; thatthis record
is the sole document of the man's talent, and we never hear
again. Didn't Ray Miller know a good thing when he heard
Why wouldn't Ray make better use of such a valuable man? And why
would his only feature spot come on a record where he had just been
by another hot trumpet soloist? To me, this all seems even less
than Bix making a one-time guest appearance with the band.
January 24, 1999
The response to my letters about Bix Beiderbecke and Ray Miller’s “Cradle of Love” has been gratifying. Several readers have weighed in with thoughtful, well-considered opinions on the topic, with the votes evenly divided on the question of whether or not it’s Bix who plays the 16-bar cornet chorus after the vocal. I am still convinced it is he. To me, both the musical and historical evidence point clearly to him - even more so since I received a crucial bit of new information.
dance records made in the late ‘20s that contain Bix- inspired
solos, only a few are so persuasive that they raise the issue of
Bix’s actual participation. Most can be dismissed on strictly musical grounds after repeated hearings. The cornetist on the Pat Dollahan Gennett, mentioned here last issue, is a good example. His entrance on “My Suppressed Desire” is startling enough to cause one to ask, “Is it Bix?” But his subsequent lead playing on this and the other side is wobbly enough in pitch to make the answer a firm “no.” “Cradle of Love” leaves the opposite impression: The solo seems tentative at first hearing, but then it grows on you. Each subsequent play reveals more and further musical characteristics that were Bix’s sole property.
Bix’s life is no longer the dim legend it once was. Thanks to Phil Evans and the global army of researchers, we now can trace his mundane doings almost day to day. There is no need to speculate about his presence on many a record imply because he is known to have been elsewhere at the time. The Dollahan Gennett can be dismissed by a quick look at Bix’s itinerary. That is not the case with “Cradle of Love.” The recording date (1-24-29) and the location (Chicago) actually fall directly in Bix’s path.
There is persuasive evidence that Bix was in Chicago on January 24, 1929. Certainly he was not recuperating from his D.T.’s in a Cleveland hospital, asthe new Evans book and I mistakenly reported. Correspondent Gil Erskineforwarded the text of a Cleveland Press interview with Paul Whiteman, published on January 25th, 1929. The interview was given a day or twoearlier. The writeup contains this critical news:
Paul Whiteman, at the Palace this week, hopes to have Bix Beiderbecke, his star hot cornet player, back in time for opening of Old Gold broadcast series Feb 5. Beiderbecke is recovering from an illness at his home in Davenport, Ia. (My italics.)
This proves that as of January 23rd or 24th, Paul Whiteman believed (and stated for publication) that Bix had been sent home. The other band membersbelieved this too, which is why they were all so surprised upon returning toNew York on February 3rd, to find Bix in his hotel room - surprised he was simply there, let alone injured and worse off than ever. They thought he was still convalescing in Iowa.
Therefore Bix was neither in Cleveland nor in Davenport that week. Somebody must have put him aboard a west-bound train in Cleveland around January 22nd or 23rd, but he never arrived in Davenport - his family didn’t see him until February 5th. Where could he have disappeared to? I believe that Bix, unable to work with Whiteman, and dreading to face his family in disgrace, having reached his limit of forbearance and sobriety, got off the train (and the wagon!) where else but in Chicago, his old stomping grounds. He was searching for escape, looking up old friends, and continuing a downward spiral that led him into even worse trouble. I believe this Ray Miller Brunswick, “Cradle of Love,” is a souvenir of that impromptu, unsanctioned visit.
What matters most about Bix Beiderbecke, of course, is his music. There is much more to Bix than simply a “style” of playing. All on his own, hedeveloped a whole new musical language for jazz, famous for its cogency andbeauty. It is consistent and identifiable at every level of construction -from a whole three-minute side (when they turned him loose), to a 32-barchorus, to a phrase, to the placement and sound of individual notes. It iswhy we regard him as a composer. This language was so compelling that legions of cornetists dropped what they were doing and tried to “sound like Bix,” with varying degrees of success. But no one ever could get that exact sound, much less master the language, because it was all as uniquely personal to Bix as his own fingerprints.
What sets the 16-bar “Cradle of Love” solo apart from other contenders isthat it does, in fact, use that language, and it indeed has those Bixianfingerprints - so many and so often that imitation may be fairly ruled out. Iwill not try to prove this further with written words - the music must beheard first-hand. You can hunt for the record (Brunswick 4233) in thesepages, but I will still provide an extensive and amusing audio analysis toanyone who sends a C-60 cassette, $5.00 and an SASE.
732 Superba Ave.
Venice, CA 90291
Lino Patruno writes on 4/2/99: The solo is by a trumpeter in the mold of Bix, but without the attack and without the fire typical of Bix even when he was in imperfect shape. I'm listening to the cassette with Enrico Borsetti and he agrees with me. Addendum on 4/5/99: I want to add that it seems strange to me that a person in poor physical and psychological health conditions can catch a train (or a car) from Cleveland to Chicago, record 16 bars and then go back to Cleveland still in poor health conditions. Moreover, Bix was under contract with Paul Whiteman for Columbia Records and he was not supposed to cut records with other people. Finally, in order for a trumpet player to play his instrument, he must be in perfect shape, just as a trained athlete.
Sudhalter writes on 4/6/99: I've
now had a chance to listen to
"Cradle of Love," along with Brad Kay's commentary. I'll readily
vouchsafe that he makes a compelling argument.
There are indeed figure
other technical mannerisms -
articulation, vibrato, etc. - that are immediately reminiscent of Bix.
Further, the few days during which this record was made are among the
least exactly documented in Beiderbecke's later life. Kay's scenario is
consonant with what we know of Bix's personality, his sense of
humiliation, his chronic inability to confront and deal with conflict.
Kay has clearly thought his
through, and makes good points -
even down to the unlikely occurrence of two hot trumpet or cornet solos
on the same commercial dance record. It's happened here and there, of
course: The Carolina Dandies' "Come Easy, Go Easy, Love" and
Goldkette's "My Blackbirds Are Bluebirds Now" (though the solos on the
latter are admittedly by the same guy) come readily to mind. But it is
There's clearly more to
than in such past false alarms as
the McDonough "Broadway Rose" and the now infamous Marion McKay record.
And, lest we forget, there's
ever-present question: if not Bix,
Still, some things bother
First, the matter of Bix's employment
with Whiteman. We know the standard PW contract of the time stipulated
that orchestra members could make freelance records only with other
Whiteman sidemen, and - presumably - under conditions sanctioned by the
Whiteman management. This is especially important in relation to the
orchestra's featured soloists, all distinctive stylists in their
fields, and paid far above the music business average.
Bix may have been a drinker
a psychological mess, but he was a
conscientious man and not fool enough to put all that at risk. The
idea of casually making a record with another well-known band, for a
competing label - indeed, taking a solo - taxes credibility. The
Armstrong "Drop That Sack" story comes immediately to mind: but the
Louis of 1926 was still a country boy, unschooled in the ways of record
companies and other big-city operations. I can hardly imagine the Bix
Beiderbecke of 1929 being that naïve.
Also, I don't know what
Brad Kay plays, but any familiarity
with trumpet or cornet would have told him that several figures he
identifies as characteristic Bix are note combinations that just lie
easily and naturally on the horn, especially in A-flat concert. The
sort of stuff any number of jazz horn players, myself included, have
used countless times.
Also, there are places (bars
for example), when the soloist's
rendering of eighth notes is rather more stilted than anything I've
known Bix to play. Even at his recorded worst - Louise, I'm In the
Seventh Heaven, et.al. - he never lapses into anything like that.
Finally - and I have to heed
too - it just doesn't feel like Bix
to me. I clearly remember the evening, many years ago, when I first
heard Loved One at the home of the Ohio collector Bill Love. Two bars
into it I knew beyond doubt that I was listening to a Bix solo, as sure
as hearing a voice I recognized saying "hello" on the telephone. This
regardless of how well or not well he was playing. I don't get that
sense of certainty here.
But that hardly constitutes
in an "is it or isn't it?"
discussion, does it?
That Cleveland Press item
in his letter of January 24 is
nothing new: I worked at the Press for awhile, found it in the files,
and passed it on to Evans when we were preparing Bix: Man and Legend.
It's at the top of page 376. In all honesty, I'd have been surprised
had Whiteman told them anything different for publication. What else
is a top orchestra leader going to say when his star cornet soloist is
under restraint in a hospital, suffering from DTs as a result of
excessive drinking? "Oh yes, Bix went berserk last week, and is being
confined in a padded cell until they can control him; then they'll
think about sending him home to his family?" Really, now.
No, Whiteman was a humane
a savvy one. I'd have expected him
to tell the reporter just what he told him: that he had already
implemented what he was planning to do with Bix in the boy's best
interests. My, my - does anyone, in our times, still set such exact and
utterly credulous store by what he reads in a newspaper, even one of
more than seventy years ago?
In the end I have to say,
"I don't know who plays the solo."
It's an interesting dispute, and an intriguing record withal. Beyond
that - well, anybody's guess.
Tom Pletcher writes on 4/15/99: The mystery cornetist has a thin tone, not exceptional intonation and only a passable emulation of Bix's style. Brad's detailed oral and musical analysis is commendable, sincere, and interesting, but at least as good a "case" could be presented using Esten Spurrier's unissued recordings, or Norman Payne, Andy Secrest, Sterling Bose, or even McPartland on a good day. Then there was my father's Yale room-mate Bob Bruce who had many convinced they were hearing Bix on a Yale recording in 1930. Or how about Bill Priestley on the Monday Knights sides such as "I Only Want A Buddy, Not a Sweetheart"? ALL nice tries but not Bix! I would be very interested in an intrepid researcher like the late Warren Plath identifying the mystery player but alas .. it's getting late in the game.
Frank Youngwerth writes on 5/4/99. Ray Miller and His Orchestra recorded "Harlem Madness" in December of 1929 featuring what sounds like the same guy who does the Bixian solo on Miller's "Cradle of Love." On "Harlem Madness," you're not nearly so likely to believe it could be Bix, but there are enough similarities to convince me Ray Miller employed a trumpet player capable of emulating Bix, and that he solos on both sessions.
Hans Eekhoff writes on 7/23/99: I'd like to point out that two takes of "Cradle Of Love" exist, both cornet solos are too similar for Bix in my opinion.
Contribution by Brad Kay. Part
Brad sent me a copy of his letter to the editor of Joslin's Jazz Journal. It follows here in its entirety, together with transcriptions of Muggsy Spanier's solo and of the two takes by the "Mystery Cornetist" on Cradle of Love. I invite readers to give their opinion on this subject and will collect their letters below. Send your letters to email@example.comIf the images of the transcriptions are not sufficiently discernible on your screen, send me an e-mail message with your address and I'll be glad to send you printed copies of Brad Kay's transcriptions.
August 6, 1999
of Love” story refuses to die. Instead, it gets better.
The big news this time is that improbably, beyond all hope or expectation, an alternate take of “Cradle” has turned up!
After I spoke on this topic at Phil Pospychala’s Bix Bash in Libertyville last March, John Wilby, of the Canadian dad & son collecting team of Ross and John Wilby, told me that while they were junk shopping in Illinois, his father turned up two clean copies of “Cradle,” and gave one to John. Comparing these, they were surprised to find two different performances! Ihad seen four or five examples of this not-too-common record (Brunswick 4233), but they were always the same take. In due course, a tape of this new side arrived from Ross, and what a surprising thing it is.
This is unquestionably the same band (Ray Miller’s Orchestra) in the same studio (Brunswick, Chicago) on the same date (Jan. 24th, 1929) using the same arrangement, personnel and order of solos. Taken at the same tempo, the playing is looser, a little less buttoned-down. Bob Nolan, the singer, stumbles over a word or two. It has a preliminary feel, which leads me to think of this new side as “Take 1,” and the familiar side as “Take 2.” (No tell-tale numbers actually appear in the wax.)
soloists appear in the same slots: Once again, Muggsy
Spanier plays an un-muted 16-bar verse; the Mystery Cornetist takes the first half (16 bars) of the out-chorus following the vocal. With two takes to compare, we now have the luxury of tracking the creative processes of these two players. I have provided transcriptions of both takes of each solo, giving, I hope, a graphic illustration of those processes. The solos are written on parallel staves, so even if you don’t read music, you can still see the difference in the patterns from moment to moment (each bar is numbered).
each musician had the straight melody on a page in front of him -
the verse; Mystery Cornetist, the chorus - from which they
could extemporize. This was standard practice in the ‘20s. Bix’s solo part in the Whiteman arrangement of “’Tain’t So, Honey Tain’t So,” for instance, shows just the plain melody, and the instructions: “Solo - improvise.” Today’s arrangements usually show chord symbols and slash marks when jazzing is called for.
verse is largely identical to the other take. Right up
through bar 9, he plays mostly the same notes in much the same way as before. Starting at bar 10, he loosens up a little, giving some nice variations. He finishes this new take with a ‘tip ‘o the hat’ flourish, (bars 15-16) characteristic of his best work. The swaggering attitude of his open horn contributes greatly to the “jazz” feel.
At first listen, Mystery Cornetist’s new half-chorus sounds, dismayingly, even less “like Bix” than on take “2.” His sound is more tentative and weak even compared to take “2,” let alone to the great Bix of 1927. But as is the case with take “2,” repeated listening reveals more and more surprises, until, as the transcription makes clear, we realize we are in the presence of an exceptional musical imagination. The differences are startling. Only bars 2 and 16 contain the same exact notes as the corresponding spots in take “2.” A fresh idea in take “1” involves climbs to successively higher notes (G - Ab - C - Eb over bars 6 - 8), which later is correlated and expanded (C - Db - Eb - F over bars 10-15). The running sawtooth idea we have heard in take “2” (bars 5-7)recurs twice in take “1,” but in a different harmonic location (bars 3-4 and 11-12). Each is markedly different from the others in attack and rhythm. Since in the original melody, bars 3-4 and 11-12 mirror each other, we actually have four different versions of the same little figure. As played by Mystery Cornetist, each repetition is quite distinctly different from the others, and equally entertaining. There are even a couple of places where the two lines, when played together, actually blend in harmonious counterpoint (bars 7-8; 13-16). In short, the whole conception of this solo changes from take to take. The “feel” of take “1” is tentative and a little busy. By take “2,” the elements have been rearranged, recomposed and edited, and new elements added, to make a much more coherent statement.
all these changes took place extemporaneously over a matter of minutes
between waxes, here, then, is evidence of a restless musical creativity
of the highest order. Need I churlishly suggest whose
musical/creative process this all so strongly resembles?
fits perfectly into the scenario I’ve already built. I
speculated that Bix was brought to the session by Muggsy, to the surprise and delight of all present. He was likely cajoled into playing - his unwillingness to disappoint anyone temporarily eclipsing the “moonlighting” clause of his Whiteman contract. So he took a whack at a solo, despite his recent illness and not having practiced for at least a week, and maybe borrowing a horn. This take “1” plainly shows his “green” embrochure and unsteadiness. The ideas come out in what would have been for him a disappointing jumble (but a masterpiece for anyone else!). It sounds as if he decided this solo was a cropper, so he determined to do something different and better on the next take. Of course, every alternate take of Bix’s whole career shows that same restless, searching quality. Muggsy Spanier, by contrast, was content to follow the same pattern on each take.
of “Cradle of Love” we’ve been having in these pages for over a year
done more than just drive up the price of the record. Whether or not
believe the Mystery Cornetist on “Cradle of Love” actually is Bix
is beside the point. For me, the chief joy of collecting 78s is
the continual unveiling of new and unexpected facets of the music I
In this case, I’ve been privileged to tell a fascinating story, share a
batch of wonderful music and take a rare glimpse into the very heart of
the creative process, as expressed by two of my all-time favorite
Being a dedicated musician myself*, I cannot fail to learn from
I hope that’s also true for you.
732 Superba Ave.
Venice, CA 90291
*Piano and cornet, Mr. Sudhalter.
Discussion of Cradle of Love in the Bixography Forum
Cradle of Love
by Albert Haim
On August 8,
I posted Brad Kay's analysis of an alternate take of "Cradle of Love".
This essay and his previous one (March 27, 1999) pose an extremely
question: is Bix Beiderbecke the mystery cornetist in Ray Miller's
of Cradle? Several readers provided important critiques to Brad's first
analysis. Unfortunately, except for a general comment by Trevor
of The New Wolverine Orchestra, I have not heard a bip from
readers in response to Brad's second installment. Are we so blase that a possible new recording by Bix leaves us unfazed?
I have not yet heard the second take of Cradle. However, after repeated listening to the first, I am convinced that the mystery cornetist is indeed Bix. At this point, I will simply say that the level of creativity and inventiveness in the solo is very high, as we expect form Bix.
In the August 1999 issue of Joslin's Jazz Journal, Phil (Tribute to Bix) Pospychala writes "Who around the world, doesn't think it's Bix? The clincher, other than musically, for me was in the USA rail system, then and now."
Sudhalter on Cradle of Love
by Albert Haim
a copy of Brad Kay's second article about Ray Miler's recording of
of Love. Dick's answer was: "I don't think the Brad Kay business
more scrutiny. The second take only reinforces my conviction that he's
chasing a will-o'-the-wisp."
Cradle of Love
by Michael May
I have heard
of Love" track, and I think that Bix was a big influence on other
of the time: to my ears, the cornetist on "Cradle of Love" was an avid
The exclusive contract Bix had with Paul Whiteman is the item that solves the mystery for me.
Some sides by Oreste's Queensland Dance Orchestra, Edison recordings from the late '20s, feature a cornetist/trumpeter who sounds uncannily like Bix, but the recording dates place him at other locations. Cornetist Fred Rollison, on "Cataract Rag Blues" as performed by Hitch's Happy Harmonists, sounds a lot like Bix. I think Bix's influence amongst fellow musicians was more pervasive then, than we now realize.
Bix Emulators and "Wild Cat" Recordings
by Albert Haim
I agree that
not most) cornetists contemporaries to Bix attempted to emulate him,
the album "It Sounds Like Bix' and countless other recordings. Several
of the cornetists succeeded in reproducing some of the more superficial
aspects of what we think is Bix's cornet work, but not the essence. The
mystery cornetist in "Cradle of Love" has a complex and
sophisticated compositional style not found in the work of most emulators.
I am not persuaded by the argument that Bix, being under exclusive contract with Paul Whiteman, would comply with the requirement that he could only record with Whiteman's musicians. Read what Irvin "Izzy" Friedman had to say about this: "Regarding "wildcat recordings", yes, on many occasions while I was with the band, Bix, Tram, Venuti, Lang, and myself would do recordings with different groups. We would not let them use our names for the "Old Man" would really raise hell".(Evans and Evans, Bix, The Leon Bix Beiderbecke Story". p. 426).
I think I need
the second take! I'll contact either John Wilby or Brad Kay for a copy.
I listened to the first take again, through headphones during the
and to be honest, it sure does sound like Bix.
Also, the "Biltmore Hotel Orchestra" track on the "It Sounds Like Bix" album is "Cataract Rag Blues" by Hitch's Happy Harmonists. When I first heard this, on the "It Sounds.." album, it sure was a chilling experience! I really thought it was an outtake from the Wolverines!!!
Cradle of Love: Not Bix to my ears!
by Chris Tyle
a listen to these takes, I felt compelled to give a few
comments. Firstly, I really doubt that this is Bix. This player shows none
of the rhythmic assurance that Bix had. Even when Bix was having an "off"
day in the studio, his rhythm is always strong. There is also the slur to
that high note on take one. My belief is Bix would've popped that out
rather than slur. Also, Bix tended to strongly tongue his notes rather than
the soft tonguing done here. To me this is someone trying to sound like a
combination of Bix and Red Nichols. Secondly, I don't believe there's any
strong evidence that Bix and Muggsy were buddies. From all accounts Muggsy was a jealous kind of guy, and as I recall at some point made some rather disparaging remarks about Bix. Lastly, I think a lot of people romanticize the event of a recording session. Most musicians avoid the recording studio like the plague unless they're hired to be there. I have a hard time believing a not-too-well Bix would go into the studio for fun.
Muggsy and Bix
by Brad Kay
Part of my
of Love" scenario has Bix running into Muggsy Spanier, and Muggsy
him to come to the Brunswick studio to at least greet the boys in the
Miller Band. First Phil Evans, and now Chris Tyle have called that into
question. Phil once told me flat out that such a friendly meeting was
because Muggsy actively disliked Bix, and was jealous of him.
Chris essays the same opinion. I would almost be willing to accept that, based on some of the general scuttlebutt about Muggsy, if it weren't for the testimony of Muggsy Spanier himself!
In April, 1939, Muggsy was interviewed in Chicago by a W.P.A Federal Writer's Project worker named Sam Ross. In reminiscing about his career, Muggsy had this to say about Bix:"I met Bix at the Friar's Inn where the New Orleans Rhythm Kings were and we both came down to listen to them. We met in a funny way, sort of unconscious. We'd sit around and listen to the boys and then one day Bix said, 'I'm a cornet player.' And I said, 'I'm one, too.' After that we went out to the south side together and there was one place we dropped in at where there was a piano and a drum and we sat in with our two horns and we played together so well we decided we'd be a cornet team. Always we met at Friar's Inn and then we'd knock around together."
Sounds to me like they got along quite amicably! Maybe later in life Muggsy had some bitter words about Bix, but at least as late as 1939, he was still waxing warm and fuzzy about his late pal. The complete interview can be found online at http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/amhome.html - which is the
"American Memory" site for the Library of Congress. Click on the search engine and type "bix". There are two other interviews that mention him. I don't think any of these have been noticed by jazz researchers.
Did it for the $
At the 2000
Brad suggested Bix would have headed straight for the Three Deuces had
he stopped in Chicago in time to cut "Cradle" with Ray Miller. Has
wondered like me what Bix's immediate financial situation could have
at the time? Might that nurse in Cleveland have skipped off with the
Whiteman left with an out-of-it Bix? Did Bix have only enough to go to
Chicago, then hit up Spanier for a loan at the Deuces? And might
have suggested Bix instead come with him down to Brunswick, and maybe
out a deal to do a solo for cash on the spot from Miller? Bix may well
have broken his agreement with Whiteman not to make outside recordings
this time because he needed money there and then. And he might have
all participants to secrecy so that it wouldn't get back to
Whiteman.All of this is speculation of course, but it might knock down a few objections forum participants and experts like Sudhalter have raised against Brad's scenario.
More Ray Miller's Recordings
Posted on Feb 15 2000, 05:18 PM
On 5/4/99 Frank
raised the possibility that the mystery cornetist in "Cradle of Love"
the same musician as the one featured in Ray Miller's "Harlem Madness",
recorded in December of 1929. Frank said "On "Harlem Madness," you're
nearly so likely to believe it could be Bix, but there are enough
to convince me Ray Miller employed a trumpet player capable of
Bix, and that he solos on both sessions." On 2/8/00, Hans Eekhoff
this question by writing "if you play "Harlem Madness", from roughly
same period, there IS a trumpet player not unlike the one on "Cradle"
definitely NOT Muggsy."
At the time Frank had written, I had no space for audio files in the original Bixography site. Since then, I have secured web space for audio files in a couple of auxiliary Bixography sites. With Hans's reminder, I decided to make available to Bixophiles the "Harlem Madness" recording by Ray Miller and his orchestra. This posting may catalyze some additional discussion of Brad Kay's important analysis of "Cradle of Love". Since uploading two files does not take that much more time than one, I also uploaded "Angry", another Ray Miller's recording from January 3, 1929. There is a trumpet or cornet solo that is highly experimental in its musical construction and I thought it would be worth listening too. Hans tells me "Forget about "Angry" that is Muggsy and no one else."
Please go to http://www.fortunecity.com/tinpan/rage/721/index.html
and then post your views and opinions about this issue in the Bixography Forum at http://network54.com/Hide/Forum/27140
Ray Miller tracks
Posted on Feb 18 2000, 01:17 AM
The Cradle of
soloist is certainly tantalising. After repeated listening I am
forced to the conclusion that it isn't Bix, although I am not 100%
If he had not been laying for a bit and if he had to borrow an
and maybe even a mouthpiece, that might explain the tonal differences.
However it is the odd phrase that disturbs me more. In both takes there
are is least one instance of an un-Bix like phrase. One of the phrases
put me in mind of one of the Lou Raderman sides, which seem to be now
to be Mannie Klein. I consulted Rust's American Dance Band Discography
and found that three titles wererecorded at the Ray Miller 24/1/29
Matrix C-2856 My Angeline Brunswick BR 4233
2857 Cradle of Love 4233
2858 Mississippi here I am 4194
Presumably the first track has been listened to as it is on the same disc as Cradle of Love. Has anyone a copy of the third track and is the mystery soloist in evidence ?
Posted on Feb 18 2000, 05:00 AM
I have Mississippi Here I Am, but our mystery man cannot be heard.
However,I believe the same man can be heard on Harlem Madness (december 21, 1929). A fine trumpeter but not Bix.
Rust mentions two more trumpet players: Max Connett and Lloyd Wallen probably it's one of these guys.
It would be worth listening to other Ray Miller records of that period.
I don't hear Bix on Cradle but the second take is more convincing.
"Harlem Madness" vs. "Cradle of Love"
Posted on Mar 23 2000, 03:07 AM
Several Forum contributors have mentioned Ray Miller's "Harlem Madness," recorded in December of 1929, as containing solo work by the same "mystery cornetist" who plays on "Cradle of Love." I listened to this record and played it on different occasions for a half-dozen discerning listeners here in Los Angeles. This is what we heard:
soloist is also the first chair trumpet, and leads the brass section
the record, as well as doing his solo bits. He is a strong, punchy
with an intense vibrato, coming off a lot like Jimmy McPartland. He
fours with other orchestra members, so his solo space is broken up. He
gets off three four-bar slices which show no compositional
either to each other or to what the other soloists are doing. He
sounds brash, harsh and rather haphazard. He seems to be a crackerjack lead player, but only a journeyman soloist.
The "Cradle of Love" mystery cornetist, on the other hand, appears ONLY during his 16-bar half-chorus, taking no part in the overall brass section work. He sounds rather weak and tentative, with occasional vibrato. However, he plays with nuance, inventiveness and compositional coherence. The quite different solos on each take betray a restless spontaneity.
The half-dozen listeners and I all instantly concluded that these are two different players.
Oddly enough, at Brad's presentation in Kenosha, the soloist on "Harlem Madness" sounded closer to Bix to me than the one on "Cradle"--I didn't think about what was being played, just how it sounded.We're probably talking about two different players.
Bix sound alike contest
by Hans Eekhoff
Posted on Apr 01 2000, 10:58 PM
I hear the same
on "Cradle" and "Harlem" but I agree that the latter side sounds more
Many Ray Miller Recordings
by Albert Haim
Posted on Feb 18 2000, 08:48 AM
The Red Hot
site, run by Scott Alexander, is a fantastic resource to listen to
from the 1920's on demand. He has collected about 3000 (yes, no error
the zeros, three thousand!) recordings and, as long as you have Real
Player, you have the three thousand records at the tip of your mouse.
You will find a good collection of Ray Miller's recordings. Here are the ones from 28 and 29.
Is She My Girl
I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate
My Honey's Lovin' Arms
Ain't you baby
Mississippi here I am
No one in the world but you
That's a plenty
Who wouldn't be jealous of you.
Unfortunately, except for Harlem Madness, the others do not help much with the Cradle of Love problem.
Ray Miller recordings
by Hans Eekhoff
Posted on Feb 18 2000, 03:22 PM
The first four
from the list are actually by the Andy Mansfield Orchestra that Ray
led for a brief period.
They made a few Gennett recordings earlier; great jazz (as are these four "Ray Miller" Brunswick records) but don't look for our mystery cornetist on these sides!
Yves Francois writes on
I was not present on 3/11/00 for Brad
Kay's lecture on the alternate take of Cradle Of Love. Brad did give myself and two other members of my band a detailed presenation of all the points about Cradle Of Love and the stereo bixes. After transcribing the solo last fall,
I strongly suspect the solo to be Bix-there may not be the tone we associate
with Bix (the question I would ask other fellow trumpet players is that how
well would you play after not playing for the better part of a week, with what
may be a borrowed horn and after suffering from a relapse of dt's?) but the
notes are. Ok if it isn't bix, who? Fred Ferguson (Lyman's trumpeter of the late 20s could do a fair Bix-Harold Gast played us a good test pressing of
Mississippi Mud that's Bixian from 1928-but the vibrato doesn't quite
match), certainly not any of the other usual cornetists kicking around Chicago
in 1929 that I can think of, and besides, the transcription of both takes
works like many another Bix alternate. As I voted in both 1999 and this year's
presentation, I believe the soloist is Bix (and besides it's a fun solo to
I am also involved in figuring out other horn player mysteries(my favorite is
Frankie Newton on a blues date in 1938 that he is not listed on, also like
general 1920s-1930s blues, jazz dance and territory bands)
PS agree with Brad on Baby...the mute is Bix, open is Andy (maybe we should take another peek at Raderman's Old Man River?)
Won't You Please Come Home. This
side was recorded on April 17, 1929 by Frank Trumbauer and his
Both Bix and Andy Secrest were present. This is OKeh 41286, re-released
in 1947 in the Columbia 78 rpm album " Bix and Tram", A Hot Jazz
In the liners for the album George Avakian states: "Baby Won't You Please Come Home" features a Trumbauer vocal and two solo choruses. Despite much speculation that Andy Secrest may have played one of these choruses, the accepted decision among most musicians and Bixophiles is that Beiderbecke is responsible for both solos." Indeed there are two solos here, one at the beginning - a 16 bar open - and one toward the end - again 16 bars.
The complete recording is described in Castelli, Kaleveld, and Pusateri's book "The Bix Bands: A Bix Beiderbecke Disco-biography".
"intro 2 band, 2 vn& gt
(1) 16 band
(2) 16 tp
(3) 16 Tram (vo) & tp
pass 2 Tram (vo), 2 gt
(4) 16 Tram
(5) 16 Bix
(6) 8 band, 8 band & Bix
coda 1 band"
Clearly there is disagreement between Avakian and the Italian authors. The first solo shown as tp would be Secrest since there were only two cornet players present at the session.
Sudhalter and Evans (Bix: Man & Legend, p. 465) provide the following information.
"Soloists: Secrest (16 verse); Bix (first "fill"); Secrest (other "fills"); Bix (16); Secrest (lead last chorus); Bix (muted, obbligato)."
Sudhalter and Evans agree with the Italian authors in that the first solo is by Secrest and the second by Bix.
In his liner notes for the Masters of Jazz set of CD's, Marc Richard provides the following information.
"Solos: Secrest, c (16 verse) - Tram, voc, with Bix, c in derby obbligato (16) - Tram, Cms (16) - Secrest, c in derby (16) - Bix, c (leads last 16)."
Evidently, we have a third opinion about the solos: Richard believes that Secrest took both solos! Moreover, in contrast with Sudhalter and Evans, Richard believes that the muted cornet behind Tram's vocal is Bix and that Bix leads the last 16 bars.
First, let us take the question of the solos. I totally agree with Sudhalter and Evans and with M. J. Logsdon who had comments about the recording in an earlier version of the web site for the Wolverine Antique Music Society. Logsdon wrote: "Actually, only the second solo in "Baby Won't You Please Come Home" is by Bix, the first one being by Andy Secrest. This is attested by Philip R. Evans and William Dean Myatt in their Bix discography in their jointly-authored with Richard M. Sudhalter Bix: Man and Legend. Also, it is apparent to the careful ear. By 1929, when this tune and its flipside "I Like That" were recorded, Bix, due to ill health and fairly-constant drunkenness, was more and more using a mute in an attempt to cover his less-than-accurate lip. The first solo in "Baby Won't You Please Come Home" does resemble Bix, but its crispness, clarity, and lightly-brasher-sounding-than-Bix sound are in distinct contrast to the muted second solo by Bix, which, after several listenings, does in fact sound different from the first solo, in spite of the mute."
There is no question in my mind that the first solo is taken by Secrest. Bix's mellow sound is absent as is his usual high level of creativity. The first solo is typical Secrest trying to emulate Bix. The second solo is clearly Bix: the inventiveness, the emotion, the tone, in spite of the mute or derby, are all there. Also, one can tell that Bix is in poor shape, as he fluffs one note. Randy Sandke in "Bix Beiderbecke: Observing a Genius at Work" comments on Bix's health at this point in his career. "His next session was for Trumbauer on April 17, but instead of sounding stronger, he seems even more unsure of himself. Secrest handles most of the lead. On both "Louise" and "Wait Till You See My Cherie" Bix again uncaracteristically finishes with high notes and the results are again strained. On "Baby Won't You Please Come Home" he settles down and plays a fine lyrical solo but by this time his lip is spent and it almost refuses to vibrate on the last four bars." Since Randy Sandke specifically refers to the lyrical solo, by implication we can infer that he does not feel that the first solo is by Bix.
The second question has to do with the "fills" under Tram's vocal. Sudhalter and Evans assign the first to Bix and the remaining ones to Secrest. Richard states that they are all Bix. There is no doubt that the tone of the first "fill" is different from the tone of that which immediately follows. But, some of the subsequent "fills" display the tone and the weakness of Bix in this recording. This is a hard one to call. Could Bix and Secrest be taking turns with the "fills"?
The third and final question deals with the identity of the cornet leader in the last 16 bars. I agree with Sudhalter and Evans that it is Secrest. It is stronger than what I would expect for a weak Bix, and the tone is harsher than what we are accustomed to hear from Bix. Moreover, in the last 8 bars, there is a cornet obbligato which sounds very much like Bix.
I would be interested in hearing readers' opinions. Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
I acknowledge helpful discussions with and technical advice from Philip Colston.
Brad Kay writes on 8/10/99: Let's end the fracas over who plays what on Trumbauer's "Baby, Won't You Please Come Home." This is no big mystery! Bix plays into a cup mute, and stands up close to the mike, right at Trumbauer's side. Secrest blows open horn, and is always ten to fifteen feet away from the mike. In other words, Bix: muted/close; Secrest: open/far away. Why has there ever been any confusion over this?
of SpectraPlus Analysis of the Two Solos.
On September 6, 2001, Tom Smith kindly sent me a message with part of a recent presentation for the Historic Brass Conference at Wake Forest University. Tom writes, "This is an example of our Bix research. The actual sight of the moving compound sine waves are part of the presentation. I have cut out most of the lengthy Bix historical background since you guys know all that stuff already. You have our permission to use any or all of this email for your website and/or discussion groups." I am grateful to Tom for his generosity. The presentation follows.
A Scientific Method for the Verification of
(The Beiderbecke Mysteries)
EXCERPTED FOR ALBERT HAIM
June 29, 2001
Smith and Westbrook attempted to accurately reveal mislabeled or unidentified brass instrument personnel on historical jazz recordings. A computerized matching system was used to compare unidentified recorded solos called, “mystery recordings” with recorded solos of known performers possessing stylistic attributes.
Since the earliest days of recorded jazz, researchers and/or educators have been routinely deterred by incorrect or
incomplete personnel identification. Four primary reasons can be credited for said circumstance. Many instrumentalists from the early days of jazz recorded under assumed names. An example of this practice occurred in 1953, when Charlie Parker recorded for other labels under the alias “Charlie Chan.” Said deception was perpetrated to protect his exclusivity agreement with Mercury Records.
1. Established artists sometimes dispatched substitutes to recording sessions who possessed similar performance characteristics. Years later, researchers sometimes incorrectly identified these substitutes as the intended contract performers. This practice was especially common with artists like Bix Beiderbecke, who were known to confront issues of dependability and/or punctuality. In various stages of inebriation or poor health, Beiderbecke may have replaced himself or been replaced by imitators like “Red” Nichols or Andy Secrest.
2. Producers often deceived the record buying public by labeling the substitute as the original contractee, knowing with reasonable certainty that recordings featuring established performers outsold recordings performed by musicians of lesser notoriety.
3. Jazz recording sessions from the first half of the twentieth century were often casual affairs, where
producers routinely neglected to list personnel accurately, if at all. Consequently, jazz discographies are inundated with terms such as “unidentified” and “unknown.” These and similar circumstances have left historians and/ or researchers to trust their ears more than common recording label documentation.
4. After World War II, thousands of amateur recordings were responsible for a plethora of illegal “bootleg” productions, and artist approved clinic sessions, usually distributed for educational purposes. In the field of jazz music, it is appropriate to assume that more recordings of this genre were manufactured than those produced by any facet of the mainstream recording industry.
In addition to the causes listed above, note should be made of the thousands of musicians who recorded their own sanctioned concerts, dances, and club dates on a regular basis. Herbie Hancock’s frequent practice of recording
Miles Davis engagements would alone provide enough material to significantly amend the collective discographies of both men.
Experimentation With Viable Solutions
As early as the 1960’s, jazz historians and/ or researchers attempted to identify practical solutions for the problems of mystery personnel identification through a variety of methods, including a process called voice printing. In 1990, Smith initiated experiments using voice imprint technology similar to another technology implemented by long distance telephone companies. VIT was similar to an earlier procedure called sound spectography, where a machine called a spectrograph performed analytical and comparative analysis by converting speech into patterns on paper. Said technology was much like the commonly referred “lie detector” test, where similar data was collected. Unfortunately, like its celebrated counterpart, results were sometimes unpredictable and inaccurate. In 1999, Westbrook concluded that a more accurate result could be attained through exploration of a new computer software program called Spectraplus, that featured a similar technology that was superior to its VIT predecessors. Spectraplus analyzes data in a number of ways. But it possesses three significant features that are most beneficial.
1. It works as a spectrograph, an instrument that measures intensity (or loudness).
2. It provides the opportunity to examine and identify artists based purely on tone. This expands the horizons of said research to include music of all genres, including classical. It is discerned that it will now be possible to positively identify unknown personnel of recordings from all musical genres, including classical. In the initial testing phase, research has been limited to primarily brass and woodwind instruments. Yet, it may soon be possible to identify vocalists and performers of other instruments as well.
3. It provides a three dimensional image of sine wave patterns that allows us to actually see the music, and differentiate between instruments. Initially, Smith was concerned that other instruments heard on the recordings would hamper the collection of correct data. His first concern was that the software would pick up undesirable remnants of the total recording. A case in point: Suppose one were trying to analyze the sine wave pattern of a clarinet player, only to discover that the pattern had been distorted by the drummer and/or the trumpet player? Westbrook demonstrated that Spectraplus was capable of overlapping the actual sound files. The facilitator is able to analyze up to three other solos and overlap them on the same graph. This allows one to identify the individual sound graphs, and compare them by means of a makeshift layering process. However, the researchers are not able to mask or filter out different instruments. To account for this effect in jazz music, the researchers compare solos/excerpts of musicians performing with the identical bands, and/or personnel from the same general time frame.
Westbrook implemented a means of data collection called a “t test” to accurately verify Smith’s data. A t test is a process for examining differences between pairs of research findings (also known as “parametric” findings). In selecting the t test most appropriate for said research, Westbrook discerned that the related sample t test would be preferable. This is a test that examines differences between sets of data that are very highly related, or correlated. The t test identifies a critical t value for each examined pair. Researchers then compare that critical t value with a t table that is constructed for individual probability levels. Despite the intricacy of its application, the premise of the t test is actually quite simple. If the critical t is higher than the t on the table, then the pairs are not from the same population, meaning that the suspected artist is not the same artist on the other recording. But, if the critical t is lower than the t on the table, a match within the parameters of practical certainty exists. It was believed by the researchers that if the procedure were to be universally accepted, t test accuracy would have to be very high. After some preliminary discussions, it was decided that a t level or p=.05, (a five percent margin of error) would be required to ensure acceptable credibility.
The Beiderbecke Mystery Recordings(excerpt)
No recorded twentieth century brass musician has elicited a greater need for accurate identification than jazz cornetist Leon Bismark (Bix) Beiderbecke. Due to erratic behavior caused in part by chronic alcoholism, his attendance or lack thereof at as many as thirty speculative recording sessions has fueled a musical legend already elevated by martyrdom derived from the unfortunate happenstance of dying young. Beiderbecke’s alcoholic episodes were at a peak at or around the first five months of 1929. This period, which includes a brief time spent in the employ of bandleader Paul Whiteman, coincides with extended interludes of paranoid insecurities, accompanied by a complete physical and mental breakdown, and a mysterious beating that may have resulted in permanent injury. After a brief recuperation at his home in Davenport, Iowa, Beiderbecke was back in New York performing with Whiteman in March, and engaged in a number of freelance recording sessions, that were ill advised, due to the nature of his rapidly deteriorating condition.
In fact, the decline of Beiderbecke’s physical and mental health were judged so severe as to promote the budding career of a twenty year old cornetist, who for a time made his living performing the role of Bix imitator and “stand in”. Whiteman actually hired Andy Secrest as a substitute during Beiderbecke’s recuperation, but kept him on later for the expressed purpose of performing Bix styled improvisations, for those occasions when Beiderbecke himself was indisposed. The eager Secrest became so expert at imitating Beiderbecke, that he was able to extend his recording opportunities past Whiteman, and into other “Bix friendly” venues. In few places was Secrest’s impact more felt than in the studio sessions of saxophonist Frank Trumbauer; a man intensely devoted to his friend Beiderbcke, yet practical enough to understand the necessity for insurance when the situation warranted it.
The “Baby Won’t You Please Come Home” Session(excerpt)
Few mysteriously identified recordings have generated more controversy than the April 17, 1929 Trumbauer rendition of the song Baby Won’t You Please Come Home. Legend continues to forward three possible scenarios.
1. Beiderbecke performed both cornet solos.
2. Secrest performed the first solo (open) and Beiderbecke performed the second solo (muted).
3. Secrest performed both solos.
The source of the dispute derives from the intelligent observations of lifelong Beiderbecke researchers , whose opinions must be weighed with due consideration.
For comparison eight solos were selected. Solo one was the Baby Won't You Please Come Home open mystery recording and solo two was the Baby Won't You Please Come Home muted mystery recording. The recordings in dispute were compared to six solos known to be either Beiderbecke or Secrest. Examples of both open horn and muted selections were included. For the facilitation of this procedure they are identified as solos three through eight. Solo three was Dardenella by Beiderbecke. Solo four was Singin' The Blues by Beiderbecke. Solo five was You Took Advantage of Me, a muted solo by Beiderbecke. Solo six was Alabamy Snow by Secrest. Solo seven was What A Day by Secrest. Solo eight was Remember Me? a muted solo by Secrest.
The first two pairs analyzed were solos three and four. There was a strong and positive relationship between solo three (Dardanella) and solo four (Singin' The Blues) (r = .794). A critical t value of 1.5 was found at the p = .138 level. This result led the researchers to retain the null hypothesis that there were no statistically significant differences between solos three and four.
The next two pairs analyzed were solos six and seven. There was a moderate positive relationship between solo six (Alabamy Snow) and solo seven (What A Day) (r = .523). A critical t value of .11 was found at the p = .916 level. This result led the researchers to retain the null hypothesis that there were no statistically significant differences between solos six and seven.
The next two pairs analyzed were solos six and eight. There was a moderate positive relationship between solo six (Alabamy Snow) and solo eight (Remember Me?) (r = .59). A critical t value of -.24 was found at the p = .808 level. This result led the researchers to retain the null hypothesis that there were no statistically significant differences between solos six and eight.
The next two pairs analyzed were solos seven and eight. There was a moderate positive relationship between solo seven (What A Day) and solo eight (Remember Me?) (r = .69). A critical t value of -.41 was found at the p = .682 level. This result led the researchers to retain the null hypothesis that there were no statistically significant differences between solos six seven and eight.
The next two pairs analyzed were solos three and five. There was a moderate positive relationship between solo three (Dardenella) and solo five (Took Advantage of Me) (r =.574). A critical t value of 3.16 was found at the p =.002 level. This result led us to reject the null hypothesis that there were no statistically significant differences between solos three and five and to accept the alternative hypothesis that there were significant differences beyond the p = .05 level.
The next two pairs analyzed were solos four and five. There was a moderate positive relationship between solo four (Singin' The Blues) and solo five (Took Advantage of Me) (r = .638). A critical t value of 2.51 was found at the p = .014 level. This result led the researchers to reject the null hypothesis that there were no statistically significant
differences between solos four and five and to accept the alternative hypothesis that there were significant differences beyond the p = .05 level.
These first six tests were administered to compare known soloists to themselves. This gave the researchers the
opportunity to test the procedure, again.
The next comparisons were tests constructed to identify the soloist on each mystery recording. The next two pairs analyzed were solos six and one. There was a moderate positive relationship between solo six (Alabamy Snow) and solo one (Baby Won't You Please Come Home) (r = .555). A critical t value of 1.75 was found at the p = .084 level. This result led the researchers to retain the null hypothesis that there were no statistically significant different between solos six and one. The next two pairs analyzed were solos seven and one. There was a moderate positive relationship between solo seven (What A Day) and solo one (Baby Won't You Please Come Home) (r = .601). A critical t value of 1.94 was found at the p = .056 level. This result led the researchers to reject the null hypothesis that there were no statistically significant differences between solos seven and one and to accept the alternate hypothesis that there were significant differences beyond the p = .05 level. The next two pairs analyzed were solos three and one. There was a moderate positive relationship between solo three (Dardenella) and solo one (Baby Won't You Please Come Home) (r = .629). A critical t value of -1.47 was found at the p = .145 level. This result led the researchers to retain the null hypothesis that there were no statistically significant differences between solos three and one. The next two pairs analyzed were solos four and one. There was a moderate positive relationship between solo four (Singin' The Blues) and solo one (Baby Won't You Please Come Home) (r = .636). A critical t value of -.41 was found at the p = .686 level. This result led the researchers to retain the null hypothesis that there were no statistically significant differences between solos four and one. The next two pairs analyzed were solos five and two. There was a moderate positive relationship between solo five (Took Advantage of Me) and solo two (Baby Won't You Please Come Home) (r = .474). A critical t value of 2.56 was found at the p = .012 level. This result led the researchers to reject the null hypothesis that there were no statistically significant differences between solos five and two and accept the alternative hypothesis that there were statistically significant differences beyond the p = .05 level. The next two pairs analyzed were solos eight and two. There was a moderate positive relationship between solo eight (Remember Me?) and solo two (Baby Won't You Please Come Home) (r = .625). A critical t value of 2.72 was found at the p = .008 level. This result led the researchers to reject the null hypothesis that there were no statistically significant differences between solos eight and two and accept the alternative hypothesis that there were statistically significant differences beyond the p = .05 level. The next two pairs analyzed were solos three and two. There was a moderate positive relationship between solo three (Dardenella) and solo two (Baby Won't You Please Come Home) (r = .515). A critical t value of -.51 was found at the p = .615 level. This result led the researchers to retain the null hypothesis that there were no statistically significant differences between solos three and two. The next two pairs analyzed were solos four and two. There was a moderate positive relationship between solo four (Singin' The Blues) and solo two (Baby Won't You Please Come Home) (r = .601). A critical t value of .57 was found at the p = .572 level. This result led us to retain the null hypothesis that there were no statistically significant differences between solos four and two. The next two pairs analyzed were solos six and two. There was a moderate positive relationship between solo six (Alabamy Snow) and solo two (Baby Won't You Please Come Home) (r = .64). A critical t value of 2.93 was found at the p = .004 level. This result led the researchers to reject the null hypothesis that there were no statistically significant differences between solos six and two and to accept the alternative
hypothesis that there were statistically significant differences beyond the p = .05 level. The next two pairs analyzed were solos seven and two. There was a moderate positive relationship between solo seven (What A Day) and solo two (Baby Won't You Please Come Home) (r = .622). A critical t value of 2.95 was found at the p = .004 level. This result led the researchers to reject the null hypothesis that there were no statistically significant differences between solos seven and two and to accept the alternative hypothesis that there were statistically significant differences beyond the p = .05 level. The last pairs analyzed were the two mystery recordings solos two and one. There was a moderate positive relationship between solo two (Baby Won't You Please Come Home) and solo one (Baby Won't You Please Come Home) (r = .517). A critical t value of -.86 was found at the p = .393 level. This result led the researchers to retain the null hypothesis that there were no statistically significant differences between solos two and one.
Testing analysis concluded that solos three (Dardenella), four (Singin' The Blues) and five (Took Advantage of Me) were performed by Bix Beiderbecke; and that solos six (Alabamy Snow) seven (What A Day) and eight (Remember Me?) were performed by Secrest. This was expected since these were recordings where the status of said personnel was never in question.
The researchers hoped to identify the mystery performers by finding no statistically significant differences between the mystery recordings (solos one and two) and either solos three, four, and five (Beiderbecke) or solos six, seven and eight (Secrest).
The results indicated that there was no statistically significant differences (t = 1. 5, p = .138) between solo three (Dardenella) and solo four (Singin' The Blues). Therefore, the researchers concluded that both solos must be from the same population. The result was expected since the performer of each solo was definitely Beiderbecke.
The comparison of solo three (Dardenella) and solo five (Took Advantage of Me) revealed statistically significant differences (t = 3.16, p = .002). The results indicated that there were statistically significant differences (t = 2.51, p = .014) between solo four (Singin' The Blues) and solo five (Took Advantage of Me). Therefore, the researchers concluded that the solos must be from different populations. This result was unexpected since the performer of each solo was definitely Beiderbecke. However, solo five was a muted solo where Beiderbecke traded fours with Trumbauer. Westbrook initially "red flagged" this solo, since Trumbauer’s and Beiderbecke’s continuity in the exchange was so fluid as to have interfered with the Beiderbecke sample. This undoubtedly accounts for the statistical error. This also verifies and confirms the need for clean and clear samples, possessing definite points of embarkation and departure.
The results indicated that there was no statistically significant differences (t = .11, p = .916) between solo six (Alabamy Snow) and solo seven (What A Day). Therefore, said research concluded that both solos were from the same population. The result was expected since the solos had been positively identified as Secrest.
The comparison of solo six (Alabamy Snow) and solo eight (Remember Me?) revealed no statistically significant differences (t = -.24, p = .808). Therefore, the researchers concluded that the solos must be from the same population. This result was also expected since the performer of each solo was definitely Secrest. However, the researchers were initially unsure of testing that compared an open brass solo to a muted brass solo. These results revealed that a performer has a unique sound, which is not affected by the use of mutes.
The results indicated that there were not statistically significant differences (t = -.41, p = .682) between solo eight (Remember Me?) and solo seven (What A Day). Therefore, the researchers concluded that both solos must be from the same population. The result was expected since the performer of each solo was definitely Secrest.
The comparison of solo seven (What A Day) and solo one (Baby Won't You Please Come Home) revealed statistically significant differences (t = 1.94, p = .056). Therefore, the researchers concluded that the solos
must be from different populations.
The results indicated that there was no statistically significant differences (t = 1.75, p = .084) between solo six (Alabamy Snow) and solo one (Baby Won't You Please Come Home). Therefore, the researchers concluded that both solos must be from the same population. However, since the alpha level (p = .084) was so close to the p = .05 level, we decided to give this analysis a closer look. After all, Secrest was regarded as perhaps the most celebrated imitator of Beiderbecke, and had even possibly fooled some of the world’s foremost Bixophiles. The comparison of solo three (Dardenella) and solo one (Baby Won't You Please Come Home) revealed no statistically significant differences (t = -1.47, p = .145). Therefore, the researchers concluded that the solos must be from the same population. The results indicated that there was no statistical difference (t = -.41, p = .686) between solo four (Singin' The Blues) and solo one (Baby Won't You Please Come Home). Therefore, said research concluded that both solos were from the same population. Said research concluded that the soloist on the open solo of Baby Won't You Please Come Home was Beiderbecke: a conclusion that stands in disagreement with a large number of Beiderbecke researchers, but one that the researchers stand by nonetheless, based upon strong scientific principals, and an inconsequential margin of error.
The comparison of solo five (Took Advantage of Me) and solo two (Baby Won't You Please Come Home) revealed statistically significant differences (t = 2.56, p = .012). Therefore, the researchers concluded that the solos must be from different populations. We again referred to the solo in You Took Advantage of Me as problematic because of the interference of the other soloist. The results indicated that there was statistically significant differences (t = 2.72, p = .008) between solo eight (Remember Me?) and solo two (Baby Won't You Please Come Home). Therefore, we concluded that both solos must be from different populations.
The comparison of solo three (Dardenella) and solo two (Baby Won't You Please Come Home) revealed no statistically significant differences (t = -.51, p = .615). Therefore, the researchers concluded that the solos must be from the same population.
The results indicated that there was no statistically significant differences (t = .57, p = .572) between solo four (Singin' The Blues) and solo two (Baby Won't You Please Come Home). Therefore, the researchers concluded that both solos must be from the same population.
The comparison of solo six (Alabamy Snow) and solo two (Baby Won't You Please Come Home) revealed statistically significant differences (t = 2.93, p = .004). Therefore, the researchers concluded that the solos must be from different populations.
The results indicated that there were statistically significant differences (t = 2.95, p = .004) between solo seven (What A Day) and solo two (Baby Won't You Please Come Home). Therefore, said research concluded that both solos must be from different populations.
Said research concluded that the soloist on the muted solo of Baby Won't You Please Come Home was also Beiderbecke. A comparison of solo one (Baby Won't You Please Come Home) and solo two (Baby Won't You Please Come Home) found no statistically significant differences (t = -.86, p = .393). Therefore, the researchers concluded that both solos must be from the same population. This comparison shows that the soloist on solo one must be the same as the soloist on solo two.
FINAL RESULTS: BEIDERBECKE PLAYED BOTH SOLOS.
SpectraPlus.com is an ongoing official sponsor of our research; and it should be noted that the Smith/Westbrook method is licensed and cannot be administered without the permission of both Smith and Westbrook. But, said researchers are more than willing to attempt to identify "mystery" brass performers of any musical genre in exchange for using the information in an upcoming book. Email submissions may be sent to Smith at either email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org; or to Westbrook at email@example.com .
The intention of Smith/Westbrook is to provide
meaningful initiation of studies beneficial towards the development and
implementation of similar studies, not necessarily limited to
Based on the preliminary research, music of other genres including, but
not limited to classical and indigenous folk music could benefit from
procedure as well. With assessments of twentieth century music a
paramount concern to contemporary musicologists, it is crucial that the
clarification of inaccurate discographies be addressed, before said
become ingrained into the fabric of accurate historical content.
The Case of the Mysterious Cornetist
By PETER MONAGHAN
From here, it's a long way to the jazz joints of New York and
the art form's birthplaces, like New Orleans and Kansas City.
Here at Concord College, on a damp, green ridge of the
Appalachian Mountains, Gary Westbrook doesn't exactly resemble
a ghost of Dixieland as he peers at a laptop computer. A
sequence of contorted lines shudders across the screen. "It's
all in the tone," he says.
Mr. Westbrook and a colleague, Tom Smith, say that in readouts
like these are the solutions to mysteries that aficionados of
early jazz, a proudly fanatical breed, have fixated on for
decades. Was it, for example, really the cornetist Bix
Beiderbecke on that 1929 recording of "Baby Won't You Please
Accounts of who played on what recordings were often
incomplete, sometimes purposely. Louis Armstrong and Muggsy
Spanier, among numerous early jazzmen, recorded at times under
assumed names. Some -- Beiderbecke, famously -- had other
musicians sit in for them while they, say, recovered from a
drinking binge. Sometimes the producers colluded to keep
unpleasantness concealed from the record-buying public.
To identify uncredited or miscredited performers, jazz experts
have depended on their own ears, a practice that in almost all
cases leaves room for disagreement -- and further speculation.
So, aficionados who venerate 78-rpm platters and earlier
wax-cylinder recordings will surely be disappointed if Mr.
Westbrook and Mr. Smith are right in their claim that they can
ascertain lineups by using modern sound-analysis software,
backed by biographical research. They say that the software
lets them differentiate players by measuring their tonal
characteristics. The method's limitation, the two researchers
say, is that it works only with instruments that produce tone,
such as horns and woodwinds.
"At worst," says Mr. Westbrook, a percussionist who is an
adjunct professor of music at Concord, "we can reduce it to,
well, there may be four people it could be, but it couldn't be
so-and-so because he was in Tokyo that day."
He stares at the patterns that syncopate across his computer
screen. They do not readily surrender their secrets to a
nonspecialist. In any case, one has the distinct impression
that something is missing.
No cornet or clarinet or trombone is heard. Mr. Westbrook does
not analyze heard sound at all. He converts selected
recordings to digital files, which his sound-analysis software
works on in silence. An onlooker can only imagine, or recall,
Armstrong with his blatting power and tireless invention;
Spanier, his tone fat, his growl exuberant; Beiderbecke,
sonorous and quicksilver in lyrical solos.
Mr. Westbrook and Mr. Smith, who is a jazz trombonist and a
professor of music at Pfeiffer University, four hours south of
here in North Carolina, depend for their detection on
sound-wave-analysis software called SpectraPlus. It measures
tone in terms of how comparatively loudly the musicians
characteristically play in various parts of the spectrum of
sound that their instruments produce. The two-dimensional
spectrograms on Mr. Westbrook's screen register frequency on
one axis and amplitude, or strength of sound, on the other.
In a three-dimensional mode, they can also show how frequency
and amplitude are related over time. Mr. Westbrook switches to
that mode and points to one region of the display, which
resembles a topographical map of a mountain range. "See that
ridge there? On most Bix solos, right around 11,000 hertz
there seems to be this peak that's just way out on its own. I
went back and looked at all my Bix examples, and that peak was
present in all of them."
No humans, he notes, have ears so finely tuned that they can
say, "Oh, he has a very high 11,000-hertz level." Rather, one
hears the combination of such characteristics as the player's
Mr. Westbrook and Mr. Smith say they have found that just as
trumpets, for example, share a characteristic sound, each
player produces characteristics of tone that the software
program can register. In a sort of sonic fingerprinting, the
researchers compare various recordings and determine whether
they were made by the same player.
"We've found that we can take an artist in his 20s who to the
naked ear sounds completely different at 60 years of age, but
when we test him it is almost identical," says Mr. Westbrook.
Certain emphases within the spectrum of the sounds that a
player produces never change, he says. The researchers presume
that this distinctiveness results from the physiology of a
player's mouth, trachea, and lungs; the embouchure; and the
diaphragm's strength and action.
Mr. Westbrook has analyzed several dozen recordings, using a
test of statistical significance to compare them with
recordings on which the lineups are known for certain. That
produces likely matches. In the case of Beiderbecke, the two
researchers have weighed in on which of his supposed
recordings actually were played by a substitute, Andy Secrest.
Throughout Beiderbecke's playing career -- which alcoholism
brought to an early end -- the cornetist often missed
recording dates and gigs. Secrest, a skilled imitator, often
was called on to take his place.
Once a technical diagnosis is complete, Mr. Smith sets to work
to try to substantiate the findings with biographical
research. "All the mystery recordings have a story that's so
fascinating," says the music historian, by telephone. Among
early-jazz fans, he says, fact is often a matter of "the
agreed-upon lie." His investigations are attempts to set the
records straight. He is gathering them into a book he plans to
call The Jazz Detectives, a sobriquet that colleagues have
come to attach to him and Mr. Westbrook. The book will be full
of "Sherlock Holmes-type scenarios," says Mr. Smith. "Musician
X spits blood in balls, another guy has to fill in -- that
sort of thing."
The jazz press has been fairly quiet about the two
researchers' findings, although JazzTimes did report on their
work in October. But some academics are skeptical. They doubt
that the technology can do what the researchers say it can.
The measurements are not sophisticated enough; factors like
microphone placement affect qualities of the recorded sound;
background noise make it nearly impossible to isolate a
soloist's sound in order to be sure what SpectraPlus is
Such objections frustrate the jazz detectives. "We have
covered those factors as thoroughly as is possible with
present technologies," says Mr. Smith. "We have argued
ourselves silly with reputed experts everywhere, who are never
He ascribes the skepticism to two causes: He and Mr. Westbrook
are "treading on the sacred turf" of "reputed sound-technology
experts," and "when we come up with this research, it kills
their fun. I hate to be rude, but we really don't care. We're
Doubters also wonder about the jazz detectives' claim that
their research involves a proprietary method, one that no one
else can use without their permission. Why, then, don't they
file for a patent, so that the details of their testing could
be made public? "We have," answers Mr. Smith.
Mr. Westbrook is not too bothered by these critics. He simply
asserts that the method works. "Our system doesn't have
anything to do with the rhythms or actual individual notes
musicians are playing. It's just analyzing their sound," he
says, as more patterns dance silently across his computer
screen. It doesn't even matter if a musician is playing the
same notes from. one sample to another. "It's still him
playing that horn."
Through His Music, Bix
BRIEF TABLE OF CONTENTS
|A Brief Biography||Articles in Magazines||The Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Society|
|Bix's Musical Genius||Video Tapes||Items of Special Interest|
|Biographies||Audio Tapes||Information of Related Interest|
|Chapters in Books||Museums||A Stamp for Bix in 2003|
|Scholarly Dissertations||Miscellaneous||Links to Related Sites|
|Obituaries||Readers' Queries and Remarks||Celebration of Bix's Musical Legacy|
The Original 78's
Analysis of Some Recordings: Is It Bix or Not ?
Complete Compilations of Bix's Recordings
Tributes to Bix
Miscellaneous Recordings Related to Bix
In A Mist