[JPL] Stardust - Sudhalter/LaRocca quote

Susan Reeves susan at susanreeves.net
Sun Apr 6 01:08:24 EDT 2008

I Googled "Stardust beiderbecke Hoagy",   and one search entry was this:
A blog post by Marc Myers/ JazzWax: ("Myers is a New York journalist and historian. His thoughts on jazz and jazz recordings appear here daily.") including a Sudhalter/LaRocca quote:

Extraction only - see the post for more:
"On February 4, 1927, Bix and saxophonist Frankie Trumbauer [pictured] recorded a jazzy, upbeat version of Singin' the Blues, a song written by Sam Lewis, Joe Young, Con Conrad and J. Russel Robinson (you can't have too many songwriter credits!). Bix and Frankie's version was a hit, rising to the ninth most popular record sold in the country in June 1927, remaining in that position for an unheard-of six weeks. All the more remarkable since it was an instrumental.
Singin' the Blues' significance was extraordinary. Recorded more than a year earlier than Louis Armstrong's West End Blues, the song was an instant landmark jazz recording. It displayed a new way of playing jazz and was a harbinger of jazz's harmonic development in the years to come. Said Louis of Bix: "You take a man with a pure tone like Bix's and no matter how loud the other fellows may be blowing, that pure cornet or trumpet tone will cut through it all.
"Bix's playing on Singin' the Blues and his phrasing left a deep impression on Carmichael, who wrote Stardust later that year and recorded it for Gennett Records as a piano instrumental in 1929. Bix's Singin' the Blues apparently reverberated in Hoagy's head for some time, according to Richard Sudhalter, author of Bix: Man and Legend (1974):
" 'While I played the melody of Singin' the Blues,' said [trumpeter Nick] LaRocca, '[Bix] used this counter-melody which had parts in it that Mr. Hoagy Carmichael later incorporated into his song, Stardust. Now when I say this counter-melody was similar I mean this man derived his idea or drew on Bix's ideas, as I had heard this boy play similar. Please do not construe that I try to take this credit away from Mr. Carmichael, as he is the composer, but there are many people who get ideas from others.'
"In later years, Hoagy acknowledged Bix as chief inspiration for Stardust, especially the verse, which when played at or about the same tempo as Beiderbecke's 1927 recording of Singing' the Blues, takes on the melodic shape of a characteristic Bix solo. Also, Singin' the Blues and the refrain of Stardust begin in the same chordal position; this, coupled with Bix's affinity for both songs, makes more than likely a counter-melody to Singin' the Blues incorporating elements of either Hoagy's verse or chorus—or both."
Stardust didn't catch on with the public until 1930, when bandleader Isham Jones [pictured] slowed Carmichael's tempo. From then on, the romantic ballad steadily became a timeless hit."
>>>>>I always thought if you upped the tempo to a medium bounce (musical 
term: "business man's bounce") and imagine Bix playing it on cornet 
with Hoagy's swingy staccato piano at an Ivy League dance in the 20s, 
you'd have a good impression of the tune's original sound - different 
from the latter day legato ballad style associated with Billy 
Butterfield and the Artie Shaw hit recording.   I don't really hear it 
in "Singin' the Blues" except for a couple of brief phrases, but the 
tempo and phrasing are appropriate, and most musicians are influenced 
by those they play with.

Anyone know of a recording of the tune by Bix and Hoagy?   Sudhalter?  
Applebaum?  allmusic.com lists 1935 recordings of the tune Stardust 
(one word) and my connection times out before it can load them all.

Jim Wilke

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