Bix Beiderbecke: Bix and Pops Lost Cannabis Sessions (1927)
Unbeknownst to Ralph Barton, his literary foray into Bix Beiderbecke’s life would take almost 30 years to unearth a rather mysterious jazz tale. Back in 1974, Barton wrote Remembering Bix, where he repeatedly relays information about Bix’s pot smoking. Alleged or factual, by 1996 such claims eventually seeped into the hands of marijuana and hemp activists who created a public stir in Davenport Iowa –as well as a private one at the Bix Beiderbeke Memorial Society– by “outing” Beiderbecke among the local community as a pot smoker.
At the time, the controversy also involved the Bix Fest Jazz as the local activists efforts to distribute a flyer depicting Bix smoking a fatty-blunt- like joint made them into a minor cause celebré among ACLU types. Said flyer eventually ended as the cover of one of the most remarkable series of jazz recordings ever. Were it not for such opportunistic politicking on behalf of hemp and marijuana, jazz enthusiasts would’ve never uncovered the hidden tale behind Bix Beiderbecke and Pops Lost Cannabis Sessions.
Billowing Records, along with Traming Recordings & Stomping New Southern Music –in cooperation with author and philanthropist Natalie Hentoffian– are unveiling a provocative mini-package into the music world that should ignite heated interchanges among the jazz cerebral politburo of the likes we haven’t seen since Ken Burns' much debated incursion into America’s Classical music. Ms. Hentoffian is publishing a book and CD package featuring five mid-'20s lost recordings of Bix Beiderbecke and Louis Armstrong, as well as a 120 page long monograph minutely documenting how this recordings came to be, why and how they were kept from the public for so many decades, the connection of this matter with corporate America, religious and political forces and their merry discovery. The tome alone is worth buying as it details an unrivaled tale of adventure worthy of Indiana Jones. Although nothing other than press packages are available at present, no one’s bubble will be burst if I advance that the meeting of the musicians took place on a riverboat in Davenport, Iowa. The Mississippi River was used for various types of contraband –including marijuana– and the bands of both Bix and Pops encountered each other under serendipitous circumstances apparently involving a local search for pot. After mucho smoking, Bix composed five impromptu tunes and a combined ensemble of Pops and Beiderbecke musicians went at it in situ along the banks of the famed Mississippi River.
Although the music will not be available for review until its initial Japanese April 1st public release – there is yet another story behind that– what I could hear through the phones was of extremely poor sonic quality. The performances, however, were as high as they were hot. The cats were quite baked that day. Surely, one must wonder why the media has chosen to ignore these important news given the current political events, but once out, it will sure grab the attention of Jazz aficionados and the media in general.
Contact: Bixography .
Track Listing: 1. Green Mississippi-Bix Beiderbecke 2. Mixing It Up-Bix Beiderbecke 3. Jass Muggling-Bix Beiderbecke 4. Rolling Hot-Bix Beiderbecke 5. Gin & Mesican [sic.] Muggles-Bix Beiderbecke
Personnel: Janice Grossman, Vocals; Mal Ball, Guitar; Tom Naismith, Bass; Thumpy Bradshaw, Allan Wicke, David Prendergass, Helen Redd, Tim Shyster, Karen Armstrong, Jeff Randall, Howling Woof, Frequent Visitor, Dougal
Record Label: Billowing Records
Style: Dixieland/New Orleans/Swing