March 17, 2005

Jazz and the "White Negro." [mi]

prismatic7's invocation of the great cornetist Bix Beiderbecke deserved a bit of digging. Here's an article on Beiderbecke and Mezzrow, two nice white boys and early jazz musicians. Mezzrow saw in Beiderbecke a symbol of "jazz age rebellion and the romantic self destruction of youth in the twenties," a man who broke away from his middle class family to play the music he loved, only to die young of alcoholism. Thanks to the Red Hot Jazz archive (previously here), you can listen and compare Beiderbecke and Armstrong for yourself. (The article links to some QuickTime audio samples, and the archive uses RealAudio.)