“Louisiana” – Paul Whiteman And His Orchestra w/Bix (1928)

Victor; New York, April 23, 1928: Paul Whiteman-dir/Henry Busse-Charlie Margulis-Eddie Pinter-t/Bix Beiderbecke-c/Jack Fulton-tb-v/Boyce Cullen-Wilbur Hall-Bill Rank-tb/Izzy Friedman-cl-as-ts/Rube Crozier-cl-ss-as-bsn/Chester Hazlett-cl-bcl-ss-as/Frank Trumbauer-Cm-ss/Charles Strickfaden-cl-as-ts-bar/Red Mayer-cl-ts/Kurt Dieterle-Mischa Russell-Mario Perry-Matt Malneck-John Bowman-vn/Charles Gaylord-vn-v/Roy Bargy-Lennie Hayton-p/Mike Pingitore-bj/Min Leibrook-bb-bsx/Mike Trafficante-b/Harold McDonald-d/Bill Challis-d.

Bing Crosby-Jack Fulton-Charles Gaylord-Austin Young-vocals.

Arranged by Bill Challis. Worked into shape by Paul Whiteman.

I’ve never been to Louisiana and maybe the song is really about a girl anyway. But even after 50 listenings or so, I still find myself getting lost in the nuances and details of the arrangement.

Everyone in Whiteman’s band had to play their part straight except for Bix. Paul Whiteman would give him eight bars or so and let him be creative. Bix couldn’t read or write music and even found it difficult playing the same cornet riff twice with the same emotion and tambour

Many of the members in the orchestra, especially the established ones, resented Whiteman’s “favoritism” in allowing the young Bix such creative freedom and as a result, Bix never really was able to fit in fully with the other members of the ensemble.

This should have marked the apex of his career, as there was no greater honor at the time than to be asked to join Paul Whiteman’s orchestra.

But perhaps joining Whiteman’s orchestra, and confronting all of the challenges and demands that came with a touring, entertaining and professional organization, proved detrimental to his psychological and physical health–as seen with his decline into his alcoholism, of which he ultimately died from, three years later. Rejection and isolation seem to be a recurring themes in the story of Bix. 

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