Bix in the Times (Gracious Sakes!)

It is often said that Bix Beiderbecke was mentioned in print but once or twice in his lifetime. While this isn’t true, it nevertheless took until January 23, 1938—or six and a half years after his death—for the New York Times to take notice of his life. And then it was only in a letter to the editor. The occasion was Benny Goodman’s landmark Carnegie Hall concert, which critics today suggest marked the birth of swing but which the Times then only sniffed at. This is the attitude that got Robert B. Tufts of White Plains, New York, all het up.

As to your decision that swing is just a passing fad, due soon to fade, ne’er more to return, you might be interested in knowing that swing (the real article) has been played well on for twenty years now and will continue to be played for many, many years to come. Of course, swing has been lionized by the public at large only within the last three years or so, but, gracious sakes! real musicians such as King Oliver, Louie Armstrong, Fletcher Henderson, Jack Teagarden and Bix Beiderbecke, to mention only a few, were playing authentic swing years and years before this. The public stage of swing may, as you gloomily predict, soon die out, but there’ll be plenty of musicians who will carry on the torch for years to come.

[March 31, 2008]