[Dixielandjazz] QC Times Bix Article

john petters jpettjazz at btinternet.com
Thu Aug 7 17:34:46 PDT 2003

Kurt reported
> The annual Bix Beiderbecke Jazz Festival held last month in downtown
> Davenport came under fire last week for a lack of both ethnic and musical
> diversity. But organizers vigorously defend the event, saying it is
> successful and they are dedicated to preserving the music and memory of
> late, great Davenport musician.

I'm totally with the organisers on this. Being in the hot seat as director
and promoter of several successful festivals in the UK, I have always
resisted the temptation to 'go modern'. My events are strictly traditional /
swing events and the artistes I book fall into that category. The customers
know what they are getting and are generally delighted

> About 10 members of the Beiderbecke family from across the nation
> to the Quad-Cities July 24-27 to listen to the traditional jazz music.

Exactly they came to hear traditional jazz, not fire in a pet shop music.

> were among what organizers say was an estimated turnout of 12,000, which
> would be a record if the final count holds up.

Obviously the line-up was popular enough to attract 12,000 punters.

> But at least one Bix descendant was critical of the jazz band line-up's
> of variety. Steve Beiderbecke, Bix's great-nephew, trekked to Davenport
> Lakeshore, Colo., for the festival. He said he was disappointed not to see
> any minorities performing among the 11 jazz bands and little diversity in
> the audiences. He pointed out that Bix Beiderbecke solidified his
> as a great musician while playing with black jazz performers during the
> "Roaring Twenties" even when racial tensions in the country were high.
I seldom book minorities because there are few minorities playing this music
today. I used to have the wonderful Maxine Daniels as a singer with my shows
and at the festivals - but she has retired otherwise she would still be
there. In the 80s I had the plaure of having both Al Casey and Slim Gallard
playing with my band. They are just not about these days.

> "He was a white man playing a black man's music," said Beiderbecke.
Here I would disagree. Bix was not playing Black man's music. He played Bix
and was totally original. Anyway it could be argued that jazz is just as
much white man's music. Take the ODJB & NORK.Its just that the best of this
music happened to be played by mostly black performers.

> Manny Lopez, a prominent Davenport trumpeter and former music director of
> the Quad-City Jazz Festival, said he and his 13-year-old Manny Lopez band
> groups never have been invited to the Bix event.  Lopez said he has
> the Bix Jazz Festival for more than 10 years and rarely has seen a
> musician there, much less an entire band of color.
> "I don't know what the deal is," "I figured they would've asked me by now,
> but maybe they just don't hire many local bands."

Having never heard Mr Lopez I have no idea whether his band would sit
happily in a traditional jazz festival. My guess is  that > said Lopez,
whose band plays various genres
> of jazz, including traditional.
perhaps they are just playing at playing traditional.

> Rich Johnson, the Bix Jazz Festival music director, said the event is
> deep-rooted in tradition and fails to attract minority musicians because
> they have moved on to different genres of jazz.
> "I attend festivals similar to the Bix Fest across the country for
> and if anybody wants to call us racist, more than 75 festivals across the
> nation are racist too," he said of Steve Beiderbecke's comments.
> would come out if we modernized the music, but then it wouldn't be the
> Bix Jazz Festival," said Johnson, who has been associated with the society
> for 25 years.
That is exactly the point, if you modernise the music it fails to be
traditional jazz, it becomes be bop or whatever else it feels like. Why is
there this obsession with modern anything being better. Why should it be
viewed as almost mandatory for a jazz musician to progress from say
Dixieland to swing to bop to post bop to avant garde. Is it not just as
relevant for someone to play in the style of Bix or Louis creating their new
music within the idiom.

I am planning to record an Ory tribute CD next month. It won't sound like
the Ory band, but we will (I hope) capture the flavour. Both Cuff Billett
(tp) and Mike Pointon (tb) learned their jazz by playing with many of the NO
vets as well as studying the music in depth. Martin Litton is an authority
on Jelly Roll Morton, so will fit stylistically within the Ory Band sound
(Buster Wilson the original Ory pianist was out of Morton). What I am
getting at is that to create new music you don't have to create new styles.
Whatever we record on 1st September will be new and it will be ours. Lets
stop trying to bring traditional jazz up to date and rejoice in what it is -
Traditional. It is as relevant as Mozart, Beethoven or Debussy. Each of them
had their own style and folk rejoice in playing it and listening to it.

John Petters
Amateur Radio Station G3YPZ
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Kurt" <bowermastergroup at qwest.net>
To: "DJML" <dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com>
Sent: Thursday, August 07, 2003 2:25 PM
Subject: [Dixielandjazz] QC Times Bix Article

> FYI - This is the Bix Festival Quad-City Times article that has stirred up
> the hornet's nest...
> Bix kin critical of Q-C Jazz Festival
> By Tony Robinson, Quad-City Times

> display of paintings joined vendors at the Bix Street Fest. "He alienated
> himself from his family and white friends because color was secondary to
> passion: the music. The festival should evolve into something he actually
> stood for."
> He also claims festival organizers are "stuck in time," saying they should
> modernize the jazz music to attract more youth to the concerts.
> "During the '20s and '30s, (Bix) was groundbreaking, innovative and
> impressive," Beiderbecke said. "That's something that I didn't see
> represented at this year's fest."
> The jazz festival was founded in 1972 along with the Bix Beiderbecke
> Memorial Society. Festival organizers say any lack of diversity shows that
> minority musicians no longer play the traditional jazz that reflects the
> sounds of Bix Beiderbecke. Lopez agreed and also said there is an overall
> lack of minority bands in the Quad-Cities.
> Society president Rich Voss echoed much of what Johnson said, adding that
> "if there are traditional black jazz bands out there, all they have to do
> submit a demo tape or CD" and they would be considered if they play the
> of music the Bix event preserves and promotes. . Johnson said his
> organization is not about to change the music tradition.
> "We work year around without pay to put this on. If (the family) wants to
> take over the festival, be my guest."
> Contact the city desk at (563) 383-2245 or newsroom at qctimes.com
> <mailto:newsroom at qctimes.com>.
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