Nothing quite like Bix Beiderbecke on a summer day. The music makes me think of old gramophones and glasses of champagne! But why?
Discovering Bix Beiderbecke
The Beiderbecke Trilogy
I had never heard of Bix Beiderbecke before a UK television series that started in 1984 with ‘The Beiderbecke Affair’. It went on to ‘The Beiderbecke Tapes’ and finally ‘The Beiderbecke Connection’ in 1988. Each episode had background music played by Frank Ricotti in the style of Bix Beiderbecke. You can read more about the series here.
The acting was great (James Bolam and Barbara Flynn) and the story lines vaguely absurd and wonderful at the same time. But it was the background music to the episodes that stayed with me long after the series was over. I was 25 years old when I watched the first series and into disco music and New Age. So this style of music was quite a change!
On The Hunt For The Music
I felt vaguely sheepish wandering into a music store looking for Bix Beiderbecke albums. However, I was greeted with open arms by a music aficionado working in the store who set me on the right path. I came home clutching various cassette tapes of Bix’s music (for the younger among us, cassette tapes preceded CDs).
Old Gramophone, Champagne and Beiderbecke
Soon after, I went to special summer event at Petworth Park in Sussex, UK. Everyone wore fancy dress which was fun. But the thing that really caught my attention was a small group of men sitting wearing white trousers, striped jackets and straw boaters. The first reason I noticed them was because who in their right mind sits on grass in white trousers? Then I noticed they had an old gramophone player and someone was turning the handle to wind it up to play as another one opened a bottle of champagne with great panache! Then music filled the air – Bix Beiderbecke yay!
Who Was Bix Beiderbecke?
Leon Bismark ‘Bix’ Beiderbecke was born in Davenport, Iowa, in 1903 and died in Queens, New York, in 1931 from the effects of long term alcoholism. He was the most influential jazz soloist of the 1920s, excelling as a jazz cornetist, pianist and composer.
But the best way to know something of Bix Beiderbecke is to listen to his music. Here is one of my favourites, Riverboat Shuffle.
Hopefully that will get you started on the same journey of discovery. It opened my eyes to lots of music. If you follow my blog you will know I have quite eclectic tastes when I choose the music for my own videos. Strangely enough, even today I am attracted to the Electro Swing genre of music because of some of the sampling of old jazz classics. But hey! That’s a whole other story for another day.
Before you go
My name is Dorothy Berry-Lound an artist and writer. You can find out more about my art and writing at https://dorothyberryloundart.com.
Thank you for reading!