Although this is technically the third volume in the Classics Bix Beiderbecke chronology, close examination reveals that volumes three and four retrace a timeline already traversed by the earlier installments, resulting in a reshuffled, non-linear progression that is atypical of the Classics Chronological Series yet seems oddly appropriate for an authentically surreal character like Beiderbecke. This volume follows a timeline from November 18, 1927 to April 22, 1928. Because the producers of this series ladled most of the "Bix & Tram" collaborations into the Frankie Trumbauer portion of their label's catalog, the entire Classics "Bixology" initially fit into two volumes (issued in 1996) with two additional volumes (issued in 2002) documenting Beiderbecke's tenure as a sideman with the Paul Whiteman Orchestra during the years 1927-1929. Shunned for years by jazz purists unwilling to stoop so low as to listen to Whiteman's string-infested ensemble, these are the great, marginalized and misunderstood works of Bix Beiderbecke. With arrangements by Bill Challis and quaint vocals by Hoagy Carmichael, Bing Crosby and the Rhythm Boys (among others), the listener is advised to enjoy the antiquated charm of late-'20s pop music while listening carefully for Beiderbecke's hot cornet passages in and among the more conventional (but also Beiderbecke-informed) trumpet breaks by Henry Busse. Beiderbecke's tallies vary; eight bars during "Mary," 16 bars muted during "Changes" and an entire chorus of 32 bars in "Dardanella." Naturally, there's never enough Bix to fully satisfy, but there never was to begin with. And he wasn't acting alone. Some of Beiderbecke's running buddies show up in the Whiteman flock; reedmen Frankie Trumbauer, Min Leibrook and Jimmy Dorsey, trombonist Bill Rank and bassist Steve Brown were responsible for helping Beiderbecke to conjure most of the jazz that wormed its way into these harmless, pleasantly dated performances. The singers are fun and the instrumentals are fascinating, especially the excerpt from Ferde Grofé's "Metropolis." Repeated listening allows truly devout Bixologists to identify his wonderful contributions and savor each solo, nuance for nuance and note by note.
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AllMusic Review by arwulf arwulf
feat: Paul Whiteman