Frankie Trumbauer & His Orchestra (featuring Bix Beiderbecke): Riverboat Shuffle
Frankie Trumbauer & His Orchestra
Bix Beiderbecke, Volume 1: Singin' the Blues (Columbia 45450)
Doc Ryker (alto sax), Itzy Riskin (piano).
Composed by Hoagy Carmichael, Dick Voynow, Mitchell Parish & Irving Mills. Arranged by Bill Challis.
Recorded: New York, May 9, 1927
Rating: 92/100 (learn more)
When Bix Beiderbecke and the Wolverines recorded 'Riverboat Shuffle" in 1924, it was Hoagy Carmichael's first recorded song. The present version is a superior remake from three years later. While the Wolverine version boasted a fine solo by Beiderbecke, the Trumbauer recording features improved sound (capturing the cornetist especially well) and a sprightly arrangement by Bill Challis. The tempo is faster and more urgent than the Wolverines, and in the opening and closing ensembles, Challis offers short breaks to all of the musicians. Bix takes the last break of the first chorus to launch his solo, a beautifully-sculpted chorus where the phrases are perfectly balanced even though they are of different lengths. His melodic line exudes confidence and a little brashness, and his rhythmic sense and swing are fine-tuned and far advanced from any of his bandmates. Don Murray's clarinet solo is melodically facile, but locked in the herky-jerky dotted eighth/sixteenth note patterns of the time. None of the other musicians can make the best of their breaks, and uncharacteristically, Eddie Lang rushes the time when his solo break comes around. Bix was often criticized for playing music with his friends instead of his musical peers, but considering that Hoagy Carmichael was one of Bix's best friends, Bix's musical favoritism had some merit, as it yielded the launch of a great songwriter.
Reviewer: Thomas Cunniffe