Harry James and a 6th Grader in Novi, MI

I played the trumpet when I was in grade school.  I stopped playing when I dropped out of the music school in college.  It’s been great to read and listen to Bix Beiderbecke because it’s brought me back to the trumpet.  I’ve been playing it a lot lately, and it’s really been years since I’ve played with any consistency.

When I was a kid, I had a tape called Best of the Big Bands.  I love it.  My favorite song was Ciribiribin by Harry James.  I used to listen to it over and over and over, and I remember being in my room playing “air trumpet” and dancing around.

I hadn’t listened to Ciribiribin in years, but my study of Bix brought me back to it.  Harry James played a character based on Bix in the movie The Young Man with a Horn.  I had actually kind of forgotten how much I loved this song.

Connecting my early years of music, playing trumpet, with my musical life now, which is so different than where I came from, feels like completing some kind of a circle.

Here’s Ciribiribin.

Bix Beiderbecke – This Month’s Featured Musician

From Bix: Man & Legend by Richard M. Sudhalter & Philip R. Evans

It seemed a good, lasting existence, one of hammocks under shady trees and long summer evenings on the veranda, the clip-clop of the family buggy giving slowly way to the cough and sputter of the gasoline engine.  Change, certainly, was in the air; Bix and Aggie [Bix’s father and mother] were aware of it, accepted its inevitability secure and confident they could watch it come, live with it and adpt to it, all the while able to retain what they found good and warm in the ast.  What they could never have suspected was that one of their own children would become the embodiment of another sort of change – one so dramatic and abrupt as to shatter the very coherence of so well-ordered a universe.


Dave Douglas: Soul on Soul

One of my favorite finds during the month I’ve been studying Mary Lou Williams has been this album, Soul on Soul: A Celebration of Mary Lou Williams.


Dave Douglas is another one of my favorite artists.  I really love the sound collages he creates with his compositions.  The sum is so much greater than it’s parts.  His music, to me, is so much more than “good jazz”.  His music leaves me with a feeling, much more than a tune I can hum.

He says in the liner notes, “Mary Lou’s being so consistently modern was what first attracted me to her music.  There were so many obstacles in her path, yet here was a person who was continually renovating and doing new things.  To me this seems absolutely courageous.”

In relation to the Heroes of Blues, Jazz and Country Staircase Blog, it’s fitting that Douglas, a trumpet player, created this tribute album.  The next artist on the staircase is Bix Beiderbecke, who is one of history’s most innovative jazz trumpet players.