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Re: Bixing

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  • Albert Haim
    Very insightful comments about bixing have been presented in this thread. An important distinction given by Howard is bixing as done by contemporaries
    Message 1 of 35 , Jul 8, 2006
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      Very insightful comments about "bixing" have been presented in this
      thread. An important distinction given by Howard is "bixing" as done
      by contemporaries -musicians and friends who knew Bix- and "bixing"
      done by historians, critics, etc. who never saw or met Bix. Since the
      word was invented by Malcolm, we should really look at his definition,

      "So, what's bixing? It's a common habit in jazz history both written
      and oral, of passing off rumor and opinion as fact. It's named for Bix
      Beiderbecke because people have probably used more smoke and mirrors
      to augment and glorify his particular legend than anyone else's. The
      harm that results is usually minimal and often risible, but bixing
      creates a folklore tradition that newcomers to our music hear and
      believe at the expense of truth.

      Bixing is a combination of ignorance, mental laziness and reckless
      enthusiasm, sometimes combined with an agenda, political or personal.
      It's fun to search out, it's common enough and it can give you a laugh
      on a rainy day."

      The first statement in the above passage, "passing off rumor and
      opinion as fact.", is quite precise. But then, Malcolm gives, as
      examples of "bixing," factual errors that have nothing to do with
      opinions or rumor. So Bixing seems to be a poorly defined term, almost
      anything would be "bixing" –factual errors, opinions presented as
      facts, exaggerations, etc. etc

      "Bixing," as defined by Malcolm, occurs not only in jazz history but
      in several other fields of human endeavor. If we add to "rumor and
      opinion" the word "interpretation" then "Bixing" occurs in science,
      politics, just about everywhere. I totally disagree with Malcolm that
      "The harm that results is usually minimum." Opinion/interpretation and
      fact should be distinguished as totally different species. A fact is
      obtained by demonstrable observation, it is a description of reality.
      An opinion is a belief with some substantiation, but it is not an
      objective statement of reality. When opinion and interpretation are
      presented as facts, then we have a serious breach of proper
      scholarship. In my opinion, Malcolm trivializes his definition of
      "Bixing" by stating, "it's common enough and it can give you a laugh
      on a rainy day." There is nothing risible about an
      opinion/interpretation presented as fact: it provides a false image of
      reality. I agree that sometimes "bixing" can be the result of
      "ignorance and mental laziness" and is occasionally combined with "a
      political or personal agenda." All of these are unacceptable in sound
      historical research. [I will admit that on occasion, examples of
      "bixing" are rather amusing.]

      I would rather not use the word "bixing," but I must admit that it has
      a nice ring to it. However, I prefer to use words of phrases that have
      an accepted meaning. For example,

      Factual Errors: honest and fabrications
      Interpretations/opinions presented as facts
      Self-aggrandizing recollections
      Etc. etc.

      One example. The question of the middle name of Leon Beiderbecke is
      raised in Malcolm's article.

      A "Certificate of Birth" is given in p.17 of "Bix: The Leon
      Beiderbecke Story" by Evans and Evans. The certificate gives the full
      name as Leon Bix Beiderbecke. Burnie, Bix's brother, maintained that
      Bix was Leon's middle name, not Bismark. We have here an example of
      PROBABLY an honest error. In Malcolm's nomenclature, this would be an
      example of `bixing."

      I believe Evans published Bix's "Certificate of Birth" in good faith.
      It is possible that Evans had no other documentation available to him
      at the time he wrote his book. However, there is strong evidence (see
      below) that supports that Leon's middle name was Bismark. If indeed,
      the middle name was Bismark, and Evans had no other evidence than that
      provided in his book, he made an honest error.

      For those interested, here are links to the evidence about Bix's
      middle name.



      Tom Pletcher has written a multi-part essay in which he presents his
      views of several "myths" about Bix. In Malcolm's broader definition, I
      think the myths are examples of "bixing."


      In my OPINION, most of "Remembering Bix" by Ralph Berton consists of
      endless examples of "bixing" in its broader meaning.

    • Bob Eagle
      Yes, you re right. I was (clumsily) trying to provide an explanation why he was not described as Musician anywhere (aside from the AFM). Bob Howard Rye
      Message 35 of 35 , Jul 12, 2006
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        Yes, you're right. I was (clumsily) trying to provide an explanation why he was not described as "Musician" anywhere (aside from the AFM).


        Howard Rye <howard@...> wrote:
        on 12/7/06 11:16, Prof_Hi_Jinx at prof_hi_jinx@... wrote:

        > George Tall (born Leavenworth, KS 25 September 1897) appears in various
        > Draft and Census listings, initially in Leavenworth (as late as 1918,
        > indexed as "Dfall" (?)), later in Kansas City, KS.
        > There is no Sam* Tall nearby.
        > On that basis, it seems sensible to forget Sam and go with George. George's
        > occupation is Porter or Janitor, but if he merely "strummed" a banjo, maybe
        > he was not too accomplished or active.

        Granted, but he was a member of the AFM and he did join Local 627 at the
        same time as other members of Moten's band.

        The records would seem to be a good basis for judgement of his skills!

        Howard Rye, 20 Coppermill Lane, London, England, E17 7HB
        Tel/FAX: +44 20 8521 1098

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