- 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
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
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.
- 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 variousGranted, but he was a member of the AFM and he did join Local 627 at the
> 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.
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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