This is the fourth volume in the Classics Bix Beiderbecke chronology, and the second volume documenting the recordings he made with society bandleader Paul Whiteman. It traces a timeline from April 23, 1928 to September 13, 1929. Because all of Beiderbecke's "legitimated" jazz recordings as a leader and with Frankie Trumbauer's orchestra were reissued by Classics years prior to the Beiderbecke/Whiteman volumes, this is a highly unusual example of a non-linear progression in the more or less tidily sequential Classics Chronological Series. (Stray tracks have been known to appear out of order in other artists' Classics chronologies, but a deviation of this magnitude is unprecedented). What you get here is a Beiderbecke retrospective that picks up where the old '60s Columbia compilation LP Whiteman Days left off. Beiderbecke didn't exist long enough to leave more than meager recorded evidence of his remarkable artistry, and there's no escaping the fact that some of his oeuvre involves a large pop orchestra sugared over with keening violins and peppered with pretentious pop vocals. Then again, the Whiteman/Beiderbecke recordings sound better than generations of jazz critics have ever cared to admit in public. This charmingly dated popular music is well worth experiencing because of the jazz musicians -- in this case Frankie Trumbauer and Bix Beiderbecke -- who made a living for a little while by signing on with this established bandleader. Then again, Whiteman was well known as an arrogant, egotistical, bigoted boor whose reputation among jazz musicians was permanently tarnished following his notorious brawl in the men's room at the Club Whiteman with percussionist Vic Berton and saxophonist Paul Cartwright, during which Whiteman coldly instructed one of his waiters to bust out Cartwright's teeth with a blackjack. Although this information makes Whiteman appear more repulsive than ever, those who are truly smitten by the cornet artistry of Leon Bix Beiderbecke are encouraged to listen to what he was capable of accomplishing even as a sideman in an artificially sweetened pop orchestra fronted by a bloated, tuxedoed anti-Semite. And now that the Whiteman/Beiderbecke records have been compiled and made available to the public, the only remaining portion of Bix's legacy still waiting to be reissued by the producers of the Classics Chronological Series are the recordings he made with the Jean Goldkette orchestra.
AllMusic Review by arwulf arwulf