BIX: “ain’t none of them play like him yet”
MUST END THURSDAY, AUGUST 19
90th ANNIVERSARY OF BIX’S DEATH
NY Times Critic's Pick
Thursday, August 19 @ 12:40 2:15 6:00
(1981, Brigitte Berman) Cornetist/pianist/composer Leon “Bix” Beiderbecke (1903-1931) was jazz's man who got away — the James Dean, Jim Morrison and Kurt Cobain of his day. Born in Davenport, Iowa into an upper middle-class family, Beiderbecke became a legend even in his short lifetime, bringing an amazing new energy and unprecedented maturity to the music and influencing generations of musicians.
After years of battling alcoholism, Bix died in Sunnyside, Queens on August 6, 1931. The cause of death was given as lobar pneumonia. He was 28.
Using archival photographs and rare footage (including the three sole momentary fragments capturing Bix on film) and interviews with friends and colleagues (including jazz greats Hoagy Carmichael, Doc Cheatham, Artie Shaw, et al.), Berman’s acclaimed documentary paints a vivid portrait of a vanished era and brings to life the only trumpeter Louis Armstrong regarded as an equal (the quotation in the film’s title was once spoken by Armstrong).
Long cherished by aficionados as the greatest film ever made about a jazz musician, BIX has also been one of the most difficult to see, with few theatrical screenings, a fleeting home video release and never available via streaming. Digital restoration. Approx. 116 min.
– The New York Times
Read the full review.
“An excellently filmed version of a musical legend, with the added impact of a tragedy… it is not a tale of self-destruction but of an innocent figure, fantastically gifted with everything but worldly wisdom.”
“A masterful job of evoking the 1920s Zeitgeist with a superb soundtrack.”
– Leonard Feather (jazz musician and historian)
“Berman captures Bix fully… In the end, BIX is about the artist – any artist with a talent he can’t contain or fully express. There’s thus an audience far beyond those of us in the Bix brigade.”
– Charles Champlin, Los Angeles Times