Bix Beiderbecke: In a Mist


In a Mist


Bix Beiderbecke (piano)


Bix Beiderbecke, Volume 1: Singin' the Blues (Columbia 45450)

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Bix Beiderbecke (piano).

Composed by Bix Beiderbecke


Recorded: New York, September 8, 1927


Rating: 97/100 (learn more)

Bix Beiderbecke was not a professional pianist, and this track is our only record of his keyboard work. Yet this is much more than dabbling by a gifted amateur. Beiderbecke completely dispenses with the oom-pah stride bass that dominated the solo jazz piano work of the era, and substitutes a holistic approach integrating left and right hands in a manner of his own invention. One might think this was a piece of classical music, if it weren't for a few telltale jazz devices. This early example of cool jazz gets positively chilly at certain points, with an emotional content as rarefied as the atmosphere 8,000 meters up Mt. Everest. There is no sentimentality here, rather a glittery crystalline quality, shiny and alluring even in its remoteness. This music is maddeningly difficult to "place" since there is hardly any "place" to place it in the annals of jazz history. In short, "In a Mist" is a one-of-a-kind work by a one-of-a-kind artist. Even so, I can't help thinking that, under slightly different circumstances, Bix Beiderbecke and his disciples might have built a whole different style of jazz playing on this foundation.

Reviewer: Ted Gioia

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