[Dixielandjazz] Bix's Birth

Don Ingle dingle at baldwin-net.com
Thu Mar 6 07:07:23 PST 2003

   In the face of the slew of messages about Bix's death, let me suggest we
not overlook the obvious,  his birth. March 10 is the date, 1903 the year,
Davenport, Iowa the place, and the rest is history.
   As this date nears I again take note of the framed photo that hangs on my
wall -- my personal treasure and constant reminder of Bix's legacy and
perhaps a bit of my own. The photo shows two young men, arms draped over
their backs with one hand, and a baseball in the hand of one of them. A
little game of catch in the afternoon in front of the open air bandstand at
Castle Farm resort, near Cincinnati, Ohio, July of 1927, was being enjoyed
by the two.
   The fellow on the viewer's left is Bix -- the one of the right a
20-year-old fellow named Red Ingle, mon pere. Red had gone
on this, one of the last tours of the Victor (Graystone) Gene Goldkette
Band, subbing for Danny polo who had become ill and couldn't make the road
trip. (The photo is in the Evans' book as well).
   Bill Rank told me several years before his death in the 1980's that he
remembered that tour with dad, since he had driven with dad in his car down
to Ohio from Detroit, and recalled looking out of the window to see one of
the car's wheels go racing along ahead before he felt the thump of the car
grinding down. Tom Pletcher, one of the better Bixian horns and a serious
Bix scholar, asked Rank if this was true (being rightfully a skeptic
considering all the urban legends surrounding Bix) and Rank told him
absolutely it was true. "I can see it now -- looking out to see the wheel
and tire rolling on past us. We had to wait for hours until Red's cousin in
Bowling Green came out and got us repaired and on the way.
Those kind of memories you never forget!"
   I might add that my mother, who is still with us at 98 was a young bride
at the time and knew Bix and the other players quite well, and she also
confirms the story as she was riding in the car as well. Mom is, as far as
it is known, if the last living band wife of the Goldkette band 1920's era
members. A remarkable lady.
   Anyway, lads and lassies, it is not how Bix died that is truly
important -- it is how he lived and played that is. To hear the purity and
vibrancy of his horn on a chorus such as that of  Goldbeater's Clementine,
or the soft gentle felt hat muted solo on Sweet Sue with the Whiteman band
that tells you the most about this vital force in American Jazz -- even if
the Burns/PBS series only gave him a passing remark in its overly
Afro-Centrist view of jazz.
   Happy Birthday, Bix!
   Don Ingle

More information about the Dixielandjazz mailing list