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Bix: The Definitive Biography of a Jazz Legend Paperback


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Continuum (July 15, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780826427540
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826427540
  • ASIN: 0826427545
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,429,571 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Voted "Best Book of 2004" and awarded the Prix Charles Delaunay by the French "Académie du Jazz"

[Lion's] style is elegant and inventive; his point is clear and perfectly framed by his patient study of the colossal documentation of Bix's life….The book comes alive through its intimate connection with one of the most fascinating characters in jazz history.—-Frank Bergerot for Jazzman (French jazz magazine) (Franck Bergerot for Jazzman (French jazz mag))

The learned and loving book that Jean-Pierre Lion dedicates to Bix takes its place as the biography of reference.—-Michael Contat for Le Monde (French newspaper) (Michael Contat for Le Monde (French newspaper))

Teeming with anecdotes and historical records, this biography, enhanced by several appendices and a complete discography, reads like a captivating novel.—-Le Quotidien (French newspaper) (Le Quotidien (French newspaper))

Jean Pierre Lion's work goes beyond mere biography. It examines the birth of jazz from historical and contemporary perspectives….it will serve as the point of reference for those seeking to understand the genesis of this music.—-Olivier Kociubinska for Jazz Notes (French magazine) (Olivier Kociubinska for Jazz Notes (French mag))

I have received the English translation of your book, and I am enchanted ! You have done an incroyable job ( I lapse into French sometimes when excited !). Really, I had thought that after the Sudhalter-Evans book there would not need to be any further exploration of Bix's life, but I was wrong. I never have seen the late Phil Evans' last book but heard that it is not more than a "catch-up" work, including material that never got into the other book, almost like a scrapbook. Your book, of course, puts this material and more,including photos of so many locations we have not all seen, into a sensible order and fills in the gaps that remained unknown. Thank you. I feel grateful to be included in it. —Duncan Schiedt, author of Ain't Misbehavin (biography of Fats Waller)

“…the book delves deeply into the musician’s life.” –What’s Up, June 2005

Bix is an exemplary piece of work…[Lion] has exploded numerous myths that long ago crept into the Beiderbecke literature, replacing them with a factually trustworthy account of the cornetist's life."— Commentary, September, 2005 (Commentary)

'An engrossing book, organised around a succession of significant dates and complete with an excellent discopgraphy.'
(Times Literary Supplement)

"As, for music, Jean Pierre Lion's Bix: The Definitive Biography of a JazzLegend is a superior piece of biography that tells the sad story of jazzpioneer Bix Beiderbecke skillfully and sensitively." —nationalreview.com, December 2005
(nationalreview.com)

"This biography is certainly the most comprehensive, well-balanced view of Beiderbecke to date, and it may even prove to be the "definitive" biography it claims for itself... Lion did a remarkable research job and his chronological account, sometimes going day-by-day, puts to rest several Beiderbecke myths. He describes Beiderbecke's performances and compositions in a straightforward and clear manner... Since Beiderbecke's place among the giants of jazz has never been disputed, this fine biography is overdue and welcome. Summing up: Essential. All readers; all levels."- Choice, March 2006 (CHOICE)

"In this book, assiduously researched and cross-checked, [Jean Pierre Lion] has written what may truly be referred to as a 'definitive' biography...This book is by no means a rehash of previously published information. It can stand alone as a new work, intelligently organized and written with perception. Lion has a deep understanding of musicians, their work patterns, and their unique problems. When he discusses a particular performance on record, it takes little imagination to place one's self in the studio, witnessing the give-and-take of the players and the exhilaration of having made a superior 'take.' Lion, a true historian, deals with facts, and refrains from listing many recordings which have passages that 'sound like Bix,' but cannot be authenticated. Discographies are by their nature works in progress, but this book could be the last word on the great cornetist's life. Highly recommended."- The Mississippi Rag, March 2006 (The Mississippi Rag)

Nominated as a finalist for the 2006 Association for Recorded Sound Collections Awards for Excellence, Jazz Shortlist
(Finalists for the 2006 ARSC Awards for Excellence)

Voted "Best Book of 2004" and awarded the Prix Charles Delaunay by the French "Académie du Jazz"

“As, for music, Jean Pierre Lion’s Bix: The Definitive Biography of a JazzLegend is a superior piece of biography that tells the sad story of jazzpioneer Bix Beiderbecke skillfully and sensitively.” –nationalreview.com, December 2005
(Sanford Lakoff)

“This biography is certainly the most comprehensive, well-balanced view of Beiderbecke to date, and it may even prove to be the “definitive” biography it claims for itself… Lion did a remarkable research job and his chronological account, sometimes going day-by-day, puts to rest several Beiderbecke myths. He describes Beiderbecke’s performances and compositions in a straightforward and clear manner… Since Beiderbecke’s place among the giants of jazz has never been disputed, this fine biography is overdue and welcome. Summing up: Essential. All readers; all levels.”- Choice, March 2006 (CHOICE)

“In this book, assiduously researched and cross-checked, [Jean Pierre Lion] has written what may truly be referred to as a 'definitive’ biography…This book is by no means a rehash of previously published information. It can stand alone as a new work, intelligently organized and written with perception. Lion has a deep understanding of musicians, their work patterns, and their unique problems. When he discusses a particular performance on record, it takes little imagination to place one’s self in the studio, witnessing the give-and-take of the players and the exhilaration of having made a superior 'take.’ Lion, a true historian, deals with facts, and refrains from listing many recordings which have passages that 'sound like Bix,’ but cannot be authenticated. Discographies are by their nature works in progress, but this book could be the last word on the great cornetist’s life. Highly recommended.”- The Mississippi Rag, March 2006 (Sanford Lakoff)

Nominated as a finalist for the 2006 Association for Recorded Sound Collections Awards for Excellence, Jazz Shortlist
(Sanford Lakoff)

About the Author

Jean Pierre Lion is the president of a French paper and textilemanufacturer, SEF, and is also an avid music collector. He is very much involved in the artistic life in his hometown of Laval, France (west of Paris, in Brittany), where he has directed modern art festivals, assembled collections, and created exposition catalogs.Gabriella Page-Fort studied romance languages and creative writing at NYU, and she now translates French and Spanish literature and nonfiction into English.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

51 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Rick Kennedy on July 22, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Previous Bix Beiderbecke biographies were marred by too much trivia and speculation. The late Philip Evans was the ultimate Bix biographer, but his books overwhelm you with minutia. Jean Pierre Lion depends heavily upon Evans' landmark research; in fact, he is quick to acknowledge all of the great Bix research by Richard Sudhalter and others.

But Mr. Lion, a French business executive with a deep passion for early jazz, has taken a very refreshing approach to the Bix story. As a Frenchman, he's able to stand back and put Bix in the context of the American Roaring '20s. The book is biography, part social history, part travel book. It's great reading, and not ruined by self-indulgent musical analysis. Lion wrote the book on the assumption that his readers already know a fair bit about Bix's musical contribution.

Mr. Lion traveled to virtually every single spot in America where Bix had an important moment. Given that Bix died at age 28, it was possible. And his book is full of his wonderful little photographs of these historic sites (old hotels, city streets, private homes, ballrooms, etc.) as they appear today. That may prove to have the greatest appeal to Bixologists. You can toss Jean Pierre's book in your car and go on one heck of a across-country field trip.

Like almost all jazz histories, this book won't sell well, and Mr. Lion obviously didn't create it for money. But it's a little treasure for jazz buffs - so don't let this one slip away! I immediately read it from cover to cover, and because of its beautiful visual appeal, it will be pulled from my book shelf for many years to come. Felicitations, Monsieur Lion!
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Michael L. Lewis on July 16, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This could be the definitive book on Bix. It has everything, lots of pictures (the publisher did it right and put the pictures where it relates to the text and not all together in the middle of the book which is cheaper for the publisher), copies of important documents and new information about his life not mentioned in other books, an embarrassing arrest of a High School age Bix that has either been throughly suppressed by the Beiderbecke family and/or a blind eye turned to this incident and ignored by previous biographers. When I first read about the incident I thought to myself I didn't need to know that and it kind of bothered me for a while. When I finished the book I had to admit that I really enjoyed the book and the research by the author was very extensive and thorough, at times uncomfortably so. Which is what a good biography should be. Highly recommended.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Wayne Engle on September 27, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When you see a biography of a noted person that proclaims itself, in the title, as "definitive," you might be forgiven for expressing a little skepticism. If it's truly "definitive," isn't it the place of reviewers to say that?

Except that, in this case, this book is "the McCoy" -- the real thing. In just 283 tightly-written pages of narrative, Jean Pierre Lion gives us a fascinating story of the short life -- all TOO short -- of Bix Beiderbecke, who may well have been the world's greatest jazzman -- almost certainly its greatest cornetist.

Biographical sketches of Beiderbecke almost invariably refer to him as "the greatest white jazz cornetist of the 1920s." I think this habit of always mentioning his race is unfair -- sort of like saying some black scientist is "the smartest African American professional in the world." Extensive quotes from equally great black jazz cornetist Louis Armstrong in the book bespeak Armstrong's great admiration of Bix's music, and of Armstrong's warm friendship with the German-American musician from Davenport, Iowa. Armstrong tells especially, in an extended quote, of a marathon jam session in which he, Bix, and several other jazz musicians, black and white, participated. What wouldn't the world of jazz give for a recording of that session?

Bix's unique, warm, beautifully golden tone is described repeatedly in the book by jazz musicians who heard him in person and played with him. Again and again they say that recordings on which Bix played, numerous though they are, do not really do credit to that tone. His genius at improvisation is also described often, in a musical genre where doing things "spur of the moment" is just part of the job.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By J. Huebner on July 16, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Incredibly well researched and eminently readable, "Bix" is a mandatory addition to the library of twentieth-century historians, Beiderbecke fans and casual listeners alike.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Oswald Spengler on December 11, 2011
Format: Paperback
This might be a wonderful book, but the print is so small that it is virtually unreadable. What is particularly annoying is that the print only takes up half the page....the rest of the page is just blank. Whoever designed the layout for this book did a real disservice to both the genius Bix Beiderbecke and to the author Jean Pierre Lion. I am hoping to find this book in another edition so that I can actually read it.
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