Freeman (under construction)
Prendergast (under construction)
Lang was born Salvatore Massaro on October 25, 1902 in Philadelphia,
Eddie Lang, in the words of Richard Hadlock (Jazz Masters of the
Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc., New York, 1965), "working without
precedent or predecessors, virtually wrote the book on jazz guitar in
Eddie's association with Joe Venuti is legendary, but he also stood on his own as a superb musician of impeccable taste. He was in high demand as an accompanist, most notably, he was with Bing Crosby beginning in 1931 and ending with his premature death in 1933. He also accompanied, among others, the Boswell Sisters, Annette Hanshaw and Bessie Smith. During his too brief career, Eddie Lang was associated with the orchestras of Jean Goldkette, Red Nichols, Roger Wolfe Kahn, Paul Whiteman, the Dorsey Brothers and, last but not least, Frank Trumbauer. He was present in most of Bix and Tram recordings, and his work in the immortal "Singin' the Blues" and "I'm Coming Virginia" is of the highest quality and creativity. Eddie Lang was one of the musicians, along with such other jazz giants as Benny Goodman, Jimmy Dorsey, Pee Wee Russell and Bud Freeman, chosen by Bix Beiderbecke for the last recording session under his name on September 8, 1930. Eddie Lang was also there on September 15, 1930 when Bix, with Hoagy Carmichael and his Orchestra, cut his last two records.
The plaque dedicated to Eddie Lang is located in South Philadelphia, in the neighborhood where Eddie Lang grew up. The photograph of the plaque is by Michael "Hawkeye" Herman.
I thank Enrico Borsetti for calling my attention to the photograph.
I am grateful to Michal "Hawkeye" Herman for kindly giving me
to post the photograph.
This brief account is to be followed by a more in-depth treatment in the future.
on Lang's Operation.
David L. Mandell, MD from the Department of Otolaryngology, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY, U.S.A. published an article entitled "Jazz and Otolaryngology: The Death of Guitarist Eddie Lang." The reference is Laryngoscope, Volume 111(11), November 2001 , pp 1980-1983. The article provides a little biographical information about Eddie Lang and then analyzes the circumstances surrounding the operation that resulted in his death. To see the complete article click the link.
I learned about the existence of this article from a post by Robert Greenwood in the Yahoo Hot Jazz discussion group.
A Website Totally
to Eddie Lang.
Mike Peters, jazz historian and musician (as a guitarist, he has worked with Joe Venuti, Bob Wilber and the Smithsonian Jazz Repertory Company) has launched a website totally dedicated to Eddie Lang, The url is http://eddielang.com
The site consists of several pages such as biography, links, etc. One page is entitled "Sessionography" and so far [as of Nov 1, 2003] the years 1923 and 1924 have been completed. Additional pages are under construction.
Update: Dec 2, 2006. The site is inactive.
An Article About Eddie Lang in
1956 South Philadelphia Monthly. A Robbins Folio.
Article: Page 1. Page 2.
Folio. Front. Back.
to Stephen Hester for kindly sending
Recordings of Paul Mertz with Bix.
January 26, 1925, Toddling Blues, Bix Beiderbecke and His Rhythm Jugglers.
January 26, 1925, Davenport Blues, Bix Beiderbecke and His Rhythm Jugglers.
January 28, 1927, Proud Of A Baby Like You, Jean Goldkette And His Orchestra.
January 28, 1927, I'm Looking Over A Four Leaf Clover, Jean Goldkette And His Orchestra.
January 31, 1927, I'm Gonna Meet My Sweetie Now, Jean Goldkette And His Orchestra.
January 31, 1927, Hoosier Sweetheart, Jean Goldkette And His Orchestra.
February 1, 1927, Look A t The World And Smile, Jean Goldkette And His Orchestra.
February 1, 1927, My Pretty Girl, Jean Goldkette And His Orchestra.
February 3, 1927, A Lane In Spain, Jean Goldkette And His Orchestra.
February 4, 1927, Trumbology, Frank Trumbauer And His Orchestra.
February 4, 1927, Clarinet Marmalade, Frank Trumbauer And His Orchestra.
February 4, 1927, Singin' The Blues, Frank Trumbauer And His Orchestra.
Paul Mertz on "Remembering Bix" by Ralph Berton. (uploaded Sep 24, 2005).
Following the publication of Leonard Feather's review of
Berton's book in the April 7, 1974 issue of the Los Angeles Times, Paul
Mertz sent a letter to the editor. Mertz commented on several aspects
of Feather's review.
1. Feather wrote "Berton brings a picture which, though
fictionalized to a degree, offers a perceptive insight into the Jazz
Age from the perspective of Beiderbecke, Berton and others similarly
alienated." Mertz comments on the phrase "fictionalized to a degree."
He writes, "That phrase is a pregnant one, best assessed by those of us
who personally knew and associated with him." "Fictionality tends to
thrive when reminiscences must surmount a 40-year interim, and it
surely does in this book." "The purport of the title of the work is
misleading. More apropos (sic) would have been, "A Hagiography of the
Berton family"; and, possibly, subtitle, "Its help in the
transfiguration of Bix." "Also, sporadically, there is "speculative"
analysis of the Beiderbecke character from womb to tomb."
Paul Mertz also wrote a review of Berton's book and sent copies
to several of his friends. Here it is, in its totality through the
courtesy of Tom Pletcher.
"Ralph Berton's book on Bix Beiderbecke compares favorably to that of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Both books are based on pipedreams.
Mr. Berton has talent as a writer, but shows inability to do any honest research into his subject. Mr. Berton, aside from possibly three interviews (and one of these claims he was misquoted!), relies on books that can be found at the nearest public library.
Perhaps this book should have been retitled to deal solely with the sexual activities of the Berton family? There can be no explanation as to why Mr. Berton has sought to drag down the name of Bix Beiderbecke to that low level. It is sensationalism, alone, that Mr. Berton offers rather than a factual view of Bix's life. Does Mr. Berton need a buck that badly?
What I can determine is that Mr. Berton has only a passing knowledge, at best, of what Bix Beiderbecke was doing during his professional career, and absolutely no knowledge of what Bix was doing in his adolescent years.
Where does one start to identify the mistakes? When an author is clearly in doubt as to his facts in his book, as Mr. Berton is, an attempt to try and list the mistakes would take more time that I care to devote. For the record, I was less than half-way through the book and had stopped counting the mistakes at twenty-five.
Mr. Berton would have the reader believe that as a youth of 13
years, (though, by his own admission, many thought that he looked
eleven years old), he palled around with Bix, who was then 21. The
constant reminders to the reader of how he amazed Bix by his vast
knowledge of a variety of subjects, became increasingly hard to swallow.
Particularly intriguing was Mr. Berton's account of Bix's
passing in Queens General Hospital. Yes, it was sad to read the
account. Sad because it never happened that way! Bix died in his
rooming house. A simple bit of research could easily have established
There are many injustices toward the Beiderbecke family,
including the incorrect spelling of Bix's father's name. Any
information about the family woul have been easy to come by for there
are many Beiderbeckes still living, including Bix's sister Mary, and
they could have supplied correct information. But agin, that would mean
doing a bit of research, and that would only get in the way of
Mr. Berton focuses the book in the summer of 1924 and the days
that the Wolverine Orchestra spent at Gary, Indiana. It is
undersstandable how, at that tender age, he was confused on how his
brother, Vic Berton, could have been the drummer then with the band,
while they still retained their own drummer, Victor Moore. Mr. Berton
solves that mystery by alternating the two on drums. Amazing! Even goes
so far as to identify a photo (# 6, sandwiched between pages 240 &
241) incorrectly to support his "theory." The man identified as Vic
Moore (#2) is Min Leibrook. Give a closer look. Where was Vic Moore? On
vacation during the Gary engagement. Who said so? Vic Moore, himself.
(By the way, on the opposite page, that is Sylvester "Hody [sic]" Ahola
the trumpet, not Howdy Quicksell, as identified. Howdy played the
Mr. Berton falls repeatedly into the traps that have snared all
past mythical accounts on Bix's life. This is due to his heavy reliance
on books that have previously been proven incorrect in their attempts
to deal with Bix. Some of his mistakes are so unforgivable that it
reduces his stature to that of a neophyte in the realm of the
It is obvious that any effort toward true research would have
caused Mr. Berton's pipedreams to burst, and like Walter Mitty, he
preferred to live in a dream world -not the world of reality. Too bad,
for Bix deserves so much better than having a purple accounting of his
life as written by Mr. Berton."
I am grateful to Tom Pletcher for sendding me the copy of
Mertz's review of Berton's book.
Interview of Paul Mertz by Tim Fitak.On March 18, 1984, Tim Fitak interviewed Paul Mertz in his home in Hollywood Hills, California. To listen to the interview, generoulsy provided by Linda and Tim Fitak, click on the following links.
The Compositions of Paul Mertz.
The ASCAP website lists tens of compositions by Paul Mertz, mostly "cues" for Hollywood films. The tunes composed by Mertz are,
I'm Glad There is You
The lattter is Mertz's most successful composition. It was
co-composed with Jimmy Dorsey, published in 1941, and recorded by the
The following items were kindly scanned and sent by Rich
Johnson. Uploaded 12/08/2006
Invitation to Delta Sigma
Upsilon Fraternity "Leap Year" Dance."
The dance took place on February 29, 1924 at the Lochmoor Golf Club in Detroit. The music was provided by "Mertz-Dorsey." Click here to see the image.
Information about Mertz's
activities with Fred Waring. Click here.
Leonard Stanley "Doc"
Doc Ryker is one of only two musicians (the other was Howdy Quicksell) who was with the legendary Jean Goldkette Orchestra from its inception in 1922 until it was disbanded in 1927. During these years, Doc played with several famous jazz and dance band musicians such as Steve Brown, Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey, Eddie Lang, Bill Rank, Frank Trumbauer, Joe Venuti, and, last but not least, Bix Beiderbecke. I venture to guess that, if I were to ask any Bixophile for a list of the three most important Bix recordings of all times, the majority would include "Singin' the Blues", "I'm Coming Virginia", and "Clementine" in their lists. It turns out that Doc Ryker played with Bix in two of these seminal recordings, "I'm Coming Virginia" and "Clementine.".
Thus, Doc Ryker should be viewed, if only for historical reasons, as an important jazz musician when it comes to the subject of Bixology and jazz and dance bands from the 1920's. But he was much more than that. By all accounts, Doc Ryker was an accomplished musician who played excellent lead alto saxophone; a perceptive man who defined, succinctly and accurately, Bix's style as "sweet-hot"; a principled individual who did not compromise his artistic integrity: "We were strictly a musician's band," Doc Ryker told writer Amy Lee in 1940. "We played the way we wanted to, and didn't care whether the people liked it or not. The boys just couldn't - and wouldn't - play hokum." (Richard M. Sudhalter, "Lost Chords: White Musicians and Their Contribution to Jazz, 1915-1945, Oxford University Press, 1999, p. 317).
I was very fortunate to have met Grace "Rickey" Bauchelle, the daughter of Doc Ryker, and her husband, Don Bauchelle, at the 1999 Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival in Davenport, Iowa. Rickey and Don have been very gracious and generous : they have shared with me a lot of the material and documentation that Norma Ryker, Doc's wife and Rickey's mother, had kept as part of the family's precious possessions. I, in turn, and with their permission, am pleased to share with the readers of the Bixography web site some of the material Rickey and Don kindly gave me.
Transcription (verbatim) of a Five Page Document Hand Written by Norma Ryker in the 1970's.
(on February 3, 1898, editor's addition) at Manville, Indiana, a
suburb of Madison, Indiana, and "Rykers Ridge" on the Ohio River.
were Herbert H. and Ida Jones Ryker. They moved to Indianapolis in
early school years, and he attended # 57 grade school, Manual Training
High School, Butler University, and was admitted to Phi Delta Theta
Shortly after W. W. I was declared, he enlisted, and left College.
His outfit was soon sent to Fort Shelby at Hattiesburg, Miss. where he was made Company Bugler, as he had studied cornet for a year in Indianapolis. At that time a new instrument had entered the scene in Indianapolis, when the Six Brown Brothers came to town, the first time "Doc" had seen or heard a saxophone, and he was fascinated, and wanted one. His folks sent him one shortly after he arrived at Camp Shelby.
As Company Bugler, he was allowed from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. to practice bugling. He used to take his sax and bugle and go far from Camp to practice, putting his book up in a small scrub oak tree, and taught himself how to play saxophone. Some of the other boys in Camp could play instruments and they soon were playing music for jobs in Hattiesburg and for officers parties. By the time their Company was shipped overseas, (one year) they had greatly improved and were considered pretty fair musicians.
Upon his return from France, he soon received a call form Cliff Wagoner, (drums) "who lived near me in Indianapolis, and had been in my Company in the Army, to try out for a small dance band job, which I got" says "Doc". "Cliff's brother Fred, Everett Hughes, Ernie Karch and Russ Holler were also in that band. We harmonized together, and it went quite well."
His first steady job was at Crystal Theater with Tade Dolan, then later on he went to Isis Theater with Glen and Ruby Jones for a while.
He decided to study Chiropractic at Ross College in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and met John Watt who had an orchestra there. He soon was playing club jobs, while going to school. It was there that he first played with Howdy Quicksell. After his course was over, he went to Chicago and took a medical review course, then took the State Board of Medicine Examination (which lasted three days) and got a license to practice in Illinois. He never followed up on this, as music was too lucrative. This is where he got the name "Doc" from the musicians he played with.
"I went back to Indianapolis to see the folks", "Doc" said, "and got a call for a job at the Canoe Club. They needed a banjo player so I called Howdy Quicksell."
"Doc" went on a job in Louisville, Ky. with Horace Waters for a while, then received a call from Jean Goldkette in Detroit. Howdy Quicksell had recommended him for saxophone after he had met Charlie Horvath, Goldkette's right hand man. They were forming a new band to be called the Jean Goldkette Orchestra. He got the job and was with the band from beginning until it disbanded in 1927 - Sept. 18th at Roseland Ballroom in New York City.
Paul Whiteman was offering some of the men a job in his band. Adrian Rollini was getting a band together for a job in the New Yorker Hotel, and George Gershwin invited "Doc" to join the group he was assembling for a new musical show "Funny Face" featuring Fred and Adele Astaire that was to open in a new theater, named the Alvin on Broadway soon. It ran over a year, but Adele wanted to leave to marry an English Lord, so it closed, and Fred went to L.A. to make movies.
Jean Goldkette had several other groups of musicians under his banner, so when Frank Trumbauer came to Detroit in the early spring of 1926, Jean took him on, as he had booked a summer job at Hudson Lake Casino, Indiana, 20 miles from South Bend. He also had a Casino at Island Lake for that same summer, where the Victor Goldkette orchestra had played the previous year (1925). Jean decided to divide up the Victor Goldkette Band and augment each half with some of Frank Trumbauer's men, and therefore keep both groups working all summer. The group that Bix was in, composed of Frank Trumbauer, sax., Dee Orr, drums, Dan Gaebe, bass, Pee Wee Russell, tenor sax and clarinets, Sonny Lee, trombone; the Goldkette men were "Doc" Ryker, sax and baritone, Freddie Farrar, trumpet, Itzy Riskin, piano, Frank DiPrima, banjo. The band went over well, and everyone like Bix. He was easy to get along with, and always had girls that liked him. The married couples had a cottage to live in, but the single fellows all lived in one cottage across from the Blue Lantern Ballroom, next to the hotel, where you had to take your showers @ 25c each, as there were no real bath facilities in the cottages. As Pee Wee and Bix were not too anxious to keep clean, some of the boys got them out on the lake and dumped them in, so they got a bath. Bix took it all in good stead, the only time he seemed to get annoyed was if anyone told him he played like Red Nichols. He thought Red was a pretty mechanical player, but he liked him personally. He really liked everybody.
Edith Horvath (Charlie's wife) and I used to try to clean up the boys' cottage, as they left all the the sour milk and cartons, tin cans, and leftovers, and all debris left all over and it was a mess. A funny thing happened to Edith one day when she had poured into a large wash basin, all the sour milk and garbage, intending to take it outside to dump it, when she slipped on the porch and went down into all the mess. Fortunately she wasn't hurt, but she ruined a woolen bathrobe she had on over her cloths as it was so cold that day.
Sundays were the day that the musicians from Chicago would come out to hear the band and especially Bix, and once a very young man in his teens came by the name of Benny Goodman. Six or seven years later he was in N. Y. and played a job in New Brunswick, N. J. for Tommy Dorsey who hired Doc for it also and Buddy Freeman. We lived in the same apartment building in Jackson heights, Long Island, at that time with Tommy. Tommy hadn't started his own band yet, but was playing at radio stations and booking jobs on the side. He had arranged for us to move into the same Apt. Bldg. as he and Toots lived in, in Jackson Hts. when we decided to move out of N. Y. hotels.
Doc worked at the Astor Hotel for a year, also at several favorite nightspots including the Palais D'Or, Hollywood Restaurant, several Schubert shows, and fronted his own band for a year at the Corso Restaurant in Yorkville. He also taught saxophone, until his pupils were drafted in W. W. II. Then he retired from the music business.
During the war years he worked at the Sperry Gyroscope Co. on Long Island for 23 years. Sperry had many recreation club features for employees and we joined a dance club and learned all the latest dances, especially the Latin dances.
Since retirement in 1965, from Sperry, we have enjoyed teaching dancing here in Florida where we now live, and also our trips out to Davenport each year to honor Bix. We were present at the first memorial in 1971 (it was fabulous) before the B. B. M. S. of Davenport was formed and have continued each year in order to support it.
"Doc" and I met on a double date, with Howdy Quicksell and his date at the Graystone in Detroit. We'll celebrate our 52nd Anniversary on April 14, 1978. Swimming, dancing and travel are our hobbies.
Additional, Complementary Information.
1921, Jean Goldkette was musical director for the Detroit Athletic
He directed a semi classical group during the week, and had a small
band for weekends. But Jean wanted to have a large dance band (a la
under his own name, and in 1922 his chance came up: he and his friend
Horvath were asked to run the Graystone Ballroom and they took the
to organize a large dance band. In 1923, the owners of the Graystone
not pay the band and turned over the ballroom to Jean who remodeled it,
and hired additional musicians to make the band into the "greatest hot
white band" in the country. The following year, the Goldkette band
its fabulous recording career with the Victor Company.
A "Swing Magazine" issue of 1939, details how Jean built his orchestra. In the Spring of 1922, Howdy Quicksell went to Detroit where there were rumors of good jobs to be found with a band for a new ballroom. Howdy went to an audition where he met Charles Horvath who, in addition to playing drums, was the manager of the new band. Howdy suggested to Horvath that he get in touch with Doc Ryker, a good prospect as alto sax man. Both Howdy and Doc were selected for the new band. The band continued evolving and adding players in 1923 and 1924. Doc Ryker suggested Bill Rank, a fellow musician from Indianapolis. Thus started the legendary Jean Goldkette orchestra, which eventually would include Bix and Tram.
Includes only recordings that were issued.
27, 1924, Detroit, MI, Jean Goldkette and His Orchestra
In The Evening
Where The Lazy Daisies Grow
It's The Blues
March 28, 1924, Detroit, MI, with Jean Goldkette and His Orchestra
Fox Trot Classique
Cover Me Up With Sunshine of Virginia
November 24, 1924, Detroit, MI, with Jean Goldkette and His Orchestra
I Didn't Know (with Bix)
I Want To See My Tennessee
November 25, 1924, Detroit, MI, with Jean Goldkette and His Orchestra
Play Me Slow
Honest And Truly
What's The Use of Dreaming?
Adoration (with Bix)
January 28, 1926, New York, NY, with Jean Goldkette and His Orchestra
After I Say I'm Sorry
February 3, 1926, New York, NY, with Jean Goldkette and His Orchestra
Behind the Clouds
February 4, 1926, New York, NY, with Jean Goldkette and His Orchestra
Sorry and Blue
April 22, 1926, Camden, NJ, with Jean Goldkette and His Orchestra
April 23, 1926, Camden, NJ, with Jean Goldkette and His Orchestra
Gimme A Little Kiss, Will Ya? Huh?
From here on, unless specified otherwise, all recordings include Bix
October 12, 1926, New York,
with Jean Goldkette and His Orchestra
October 15, 1926, New York, NY, with Jean Goldkette and His Orchestra
I'd Rather Be the Girl In Your Arms
Cover Me Up With Sunshine
January 28, 1927, New York, NY, with Jean Goldkette and His Orchestra
Proud Of A baby Like You
I'm Looking Over a Four-Leaf Clover
January 31, 1927, New York, NY, with Jean Goldkette and His Orchestra
I'm Gonna Meet My Sweetie Now
Proud Of A baby Like You
February 1, 1927, New York, NY, with Jean Goldkette and His Orchestra
Look At The World And Smile
My Pretty Girl
February 3, 1927, New York, NY, with Jean Goldkette and His Orchestra
A Lane In Spain
February 4, 1927, New York, NY, with Frankie Trumbauer and His Orchestra
Singin' The Blues
May 6, 1927, Camden, NJ, with Jean Goldkette and His Orchestra
May 9, 1927, New York, NY, with Frankie Trumbauer and His Orchestra
May 13, 1927, New York, NY, with Frankie Trumbauer and His Orchestra
I'm Coming Virginia
Way Down Yonder In New Orleans
May 16, 1927, Camden, NJ, with Jean Goldkette and His Orchestra
In My Merry Oldsmobile (no Bix)
May 23, 1927, Camden, NJ, with Jean Goldkette and His Orchestra
In My Merry Oldsmobile
August 25, 1927, New York, NY, with Frankie Trumbauer and His Orchestra
Three Blind Mice
There's A Cradle In Caroline
September 15, 1927, New York, NY, with Jean Goldkette and His Orchestra
September 16, 1927, New York, NY, with Joe Herlihy and His Orchestra
Bye-Bye, Pretty Baby (no Bix)
Rolling Around in Roses (no Bix)
According to Brian Rust the musicians in the Joe Herlihy's orchestra are James Hanson, Fuzzy Farrar, Bill Rank, Don Murray, Doc Ryker, Frank Trumbauer, Itzy Riskin, Howdy Quicksell, Steve Brown and Chauncey Morehouse, basically the Jean Goldkette orchestra. It is noteworthy that these records are not listed in the complete Trumbauer discography in "Tram: The Frank Trumbauer Story" by Philip R. Evans and Larry F. Kiner with William Trumbauer.
I am including correspondence with Brigitte Berman and a letter from Jean Goldkette. The letter from Ms. Berman is important in that it shows the detailed approach she took in the conception and execution of the documentary about Bix. The answer from Norma and Doc Ryker is illustrative of the insights that Doc had into the personality and musicianship of the great Bix Beiderbecke.
The letter from Jean Goldkette is important not only as a historic document, but also because it shows Jean's deep concern for how the Band (Jean uses a capital B to refer to his Victor recording band) is doing in its Eastern tour. The other lesson from Jean's letter is that he must have had a lot of confidence in Doc's judgment and trusted Doc as a responsible and dutiful individual.
Letter From Brigitte Berman
Toronto, Ontario, March 7, 1979
Dear Mr. Ryker,
me to introduce myself to you: I am a freelance documentary film maker,
working at the present time for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
Over the last year and a half, I have been researching a documentary on
the life and music of Bix Beiderbecke. However, the documentary on Bix
is not being made for the CBC, rather it is a pet project of mine, a
of love so to speak, which I have been working on on my own time and up
until now it has been funded entirely by myself. It is just that I feel
that this film ought to be done before it's too late and while enough
and friends of Bix from the old days are still alive who can
in the making of the film. An accurate film record needs to be put
in order to keep alive the spirit of the early jazz days and its many
contributors. So here I am, attempting to do just that.
Over the past year I have contacted and visited with most of the people whose appearance in the film and whose contributions to the documentary is of vital importance, people like Bill Challis, Bix's sister Mary Louise Shoemaker, Izzy Friedman, Paul Mertz, Esten Spurrier, and many, many others. All of those whom I have contacted so far are willing and eager to co-operate and are as excited by the project as I am myself. Without all their help, I certainly could not have proceeded as far as I already have.
As you can well imagine, the circle of people and musicians who spanned Bix's life and career is getting smaller with each coming year and it will continue to become increasingly difficult to accurately reconstruct the story of this important musician. I realize that we are talking about something that happened a very long time ago and that it can be difficult to recall some of those days, but any help at all, like your own personal comments regarding Bix, and bits and pieces of information and insight, would be most valuable to this project and will be very much appreciated.
Please allow me to tell you a little bit more about the film: it was hearing Bix Beiderbecke's music which first inspired me into making a documentary on Bix, especially when I then also realized that no documentary film record was available on this great musician.
This is the kind of documentary which is very dear to me, -preserving events, people and places from the past and doing it accurately. The film will be a historical tribute and will primarily include the first hand reminiscences of a group of people who spanned Bix Beiderbecke's musical career and personal life from early childhood to his death.
I would appreciate it very much indeed if you could find the time to send me some of your own comments about Bix, both as a person and as a musician. Also, I realize that your wife knew Bix too, perhaps she might be able to add a few comments?
Could you describe to me the days from the Goldkette band, how Bix struck you then, what you noticed most about him and any particular anecdotes that you remember? When did you first meet Bix and hear his music? How would you describe his playing? What do you personally think was so special about Bix? How did the other musicians treat Bix? Did they seem to idolize him, if they did, how was Bix affected by that? You spent the summer of 1926 at Hudson Lake, living in a cottage near where Bix was rooming with Pee Wee Russell. What do you remember of those days. Your comments regarding this summer are especially important because you are the only person left who can talk about those days? How did the audiences like the music that was being played? It has been said that Bix played his best that summer. Is that true? I know this means reaching back a long ways, but please Mr. Ryker, anything at all that you could comment on, I would greatly appreciate. When was the last time you saw Bix? What do you remember most about him? If you were to describe Bix, the person, to someone to really wanted to understand what Bix was like, how would you describe him?
I have read just about everything that has been written about Bix, both in book form and in numerous articles and I know that several of your comments are included in the book "Bix, Man and Legend", but would it be possible for you to tell me in your own words what you remember? You see, a person is seen in different ways by many people and in order to have a fuller understanding of the whole picture, it is important to collect the various comments of many different people. So please, may I ask you to try and remember back those many years? Also, should anything else spring to mind that I have not touched on in this letter, would you please be so kind as to include it in your comments?
I thank you very much for your patience and I sincerely hope that you will be able to help me with this endeavour. I look very much forward to hearing from you and remain,
With Kindest Regards,
(signed) Brigitte Berman
Answer from Norma Ryker (At
this time, Doc Ryker could not see well and his wife Norma did the
for him), transcribed by Rickey Bauchelle.
Doc recalls Bix coming to the Graystone to hear the band in October 1925 and sat in with the band for a few sets. He could not read music but he filled in beautifully an all the boys were impressed with him. he was shy but friendly and very humble. he had a good sense of humor and Doc says he would jokingly say " I ain't got much technique but I've got a lousy tone". He always got a laugh and he'd would come out with cracks like that often. The whole Goldkette band was the same way, very good humored and all got along very well. It was later on that after he had joined Frank Tumbauer's group, that Frank's group joined the Jean Goldkette orchestra and played at Hudson Lake, Indiana the summer of 1926. Bix always played well not only at Hudson Lake. His problem was he drank too much, but it never seemed to harm his playing. Several of the single fellows drank also, but we did not get into that, so our contact with Bix was mostly at rehearsal, jam sessions and on stage. Last time we saw Bix was the last night at Roseland when the band broke up on September 18, 1927.
After the summer at Hudson Lake, Bix and Frankie Trumbauer stayed with Goldkette and played all winter long at the Graystone with the band (the Island Lake group had returned also). Some of those fellows knew Bix from when they had played around Chicago.
(Rickey writes : I believe from this point on, Norma is actually quoting from Doc.)
Bix couldn't read but he could fake - he could always find another note. No matter how many notes were played he'd always find one that somebody else did not have. He had an uncanny ear. Funny thing - when we came to New York to make Victor records most of the NY bands were using two trumpets, not knowing the reason for Goldkette's three trumpets (Bix couldn't read). Many of the NY bands added a third trumpet. The same thing happened with Steve Brown on string bass, everyone was using tubas up till then. Steve was really a marvel on his bass. No one could slap it like he did. When he moved it upstage to play, the dancers stopped to watch.
What struck me most about Bix was his sweet-hot style. Although he played hot it was his beautiful tone, everything sounded so sweet, although it was never schmaltzy or anything. I liked the harmony he would play. Very often when he'd take a chorus I'd be listening so intently I'd almost forget to come in. He was way ahead of all of us in the things he was playing. He had a love of concert music such as Debussy, Ravel and Eastwood Lane, and when in Detroit would go on Sundays to hear the Detroit Symphony and had established quite a friendship with the concert master there.
Letter From Jean Goldkette
ORCHESTRAS AND ATTRACTIONS
Exclusive Victor Record Artists
c/o Victor Recording Orch.,
Hope my letter reaches you and all the boys in the best of health. I heard some great reports about the Band. Is that all true? Have you enough arrangements? Also, does the Band make enough arrangements? and is the Band rehearsing enough to insure success on Broadway. I wish you would write me a letter, Doc, and tell me everything - how the Band is coming along and any suggestions you may have.
Did you receive the arrangement on "Cubist" by Griselle, also four or five orchestrations on Blues by Melrose Brothers such as African Capers, Maple leaf, etc. Please advise whether you received same, also your opinion on same as I must write to each of these people our exact reaction on these numbers. Handwritten addition: also on Phil Wing's arrangements.
The Graystone is going over great. Plenty of inquiries as to when the Band is coming back. Remember, Doc, going to New York again and recording means that the Band has to be 100%, so I am extremely anxious to hear from you by return mail to know exactly the condition of the Band, what's being done and what is necessary to be done immediately to assure success in the East.
I saw your wife a couple of times here. She looked wonderful.
Not much news from me except I am working hard all the time. Looks like we are going to have a big season. Opening the new Hotel Savoy October the second. Also the D.A.C.
Trusting that I shall hear from you real soon and with kindest regards to yourself as well as the boys, I am
Most sincerely yours
(Signed) Jean Pres
Jean Goldkette orchestras
and Attractions, Inc.
I am very grateful to Rickey (Doc Ryker's daughter) and Don Bauchelle for their generosity in providing me copies of the material posted herein.
Links to Images Related to "Doc" Ryker
Copy of "Doc" Ryker's contract with Jean Goldkette
Page 5 of Norma Ryker's handwritten document
The Final Story on Joe Venuti's Birth Place (under construction)
by Albert Haim
I have all the documents that I was seeking.
1. Social Security Application for Account Number.
I found 27 Joseph Venutis in the Social Security Death Index. Three were of the right age. One of them had died in Seattle, WA, the known location of Joe Venuti's death. The SSDI gave a social security number. With the number at hand, I requested from the Social Security Administration a copy of Joseph Venuti's application. Here is a scan of the copy I received.
The names of father and mother are given as James and Rose Macchio,
respectively. Note in two places the weird way Joe Venuti writes the
letter J; whoever received the application wrote a normal J above Joe's
bizarre J. Note also that Joe Venuti was born in Philadelphia -neither
in Italy, nor on a ship in the middle of the high seas- on September
1903. Finally, note that Joe anglicized the names of father and mother.
His father was born Giacomo and his mother Rose. The translation of
into Rose is obvious. That of Giacomo into James is not so obvious. To
make sure, I went to a website that gives equivalence between Italian
English given names.
Indeed James is Giacomo and viceversa. A couple of additonal remarks. True to his Italian heritage, Joe Venuti was living in a "Villa Italia" and was working at the Frank Sebastian Cotton Club. Louis Armstrong and Fats Waller also made appearences at that West Coast Cotton Club.
2. Thirteenth Census of the United States: 1910-Population.
You may remember that I found in the Ellis Island Records a Giovanni (Joseph) Venuti born in Italy. This Joseph Venuti was six years old when he arrived to New York with his mother Maria Costa on December 22, 1906, with destination her sister's home at 840 Christian Street, Philadelphia, PA. From the office of registrar of births in Spafadora, Enrico obtained a copy of the birth certificate of this Joseph (Giovanni) Venuti. He was born in Spafadora, Sicily on August 26, 1900, father Antonino, mother Maria Costa. (I believe this Joseph Venuti died in Los Angeles in 1976). I obtained the records of the 1910 US Census for Philadelphia for Christian Street. Here is a scan of the pertinent portion. Sorry about the quality. It is a scan of a printout of a microfilm!
Several observations. First, there were no Venutis living at 840
Street in 1910. My guess is that Giuseppe Venuti and his mother stayed
with Giuseppe's aunt for a while and eventually moved with the head of
the family, Antonino. However, I got a huge bonus by looking at the
It turns out that in 1910, THE Joe Venuti was living at 832 Christian
Philadelphia, PA with his very large family. It consisted of the
(ages in 1910)
Giacomo, father, age 46, born in Italy, arrived in the US in 1895.
Rosa, mother, age 46, born in Italy, arrived in the US in 1900.
Carmelo, brother, age 21, born in Italy, arrived in the US in 1900.
Fradio, brother, age 19, born in Italy, arrived in the US in 1900.
Concetta, sister age 17, born in Italy, arrived in the US in 1900.
Andrew, brother, age 15, born in Italy, arrived in the US in 1900.
Giovannina, sister, age 9, born in Philadelphia, PA.
Joseph, himself, age 6, born in Philadelphia.
Another find in the census. It turns out that there was another Venuti family living at 838 Christian Street. That family consisted of father Domenico Venuti(age 38, born in Italy, arrived in the US in 1880), wife Rosa (age, 30, born in Italy, arrived in the US in 1895), daughter Domenica (age 6, born in Philadelphia), son Joseph (age 8, born in Philadelphia) and son Pasquale (age 2, born in Philadelphia).
It turns out then that in 1906, there were three Joseph Venutis ages
2, 3 and 5 (really two Josephs and one Giuseppe) living respectively at
832, 838 and 840 Christian Street, Philadelphia, PA. THE Joe Venuti was
born in 1903 in Philadelphia, PA and was living at 832 Christian
William Eugene Prendergast (under construction)
1.Orange Blosssoms in 1925. Taken at the Book Cadillac Hotel. Sitting at the piano, Hank Biagini, leader, trumpet. Left to right: Ed Murray, piano; Ray Eberle, alto; Tommy Gargano, drums; Al Cox, banjo; Bill Maitland, tuba; Spike Knoblock (Glen Gray), alto; Gene Prendergast, tenor; Ed Arnold, trombone; Jack McGahey, violin. Gargano recorded "Davenport Blues" and "Toddlin' Blues" with Bix and His Rythm Jugglers on January 26, 1925.
2. Lud Gluskin Orchestra in December 1927. Back row, left to right: Maurice Cizerone, alto sax; Fred Zierer, violin; Gene Prendergast (alto sax, clarinet; Eddie Ritten, first trumpet; Ted Gobel, drums; Reuel Kenyon, piano. Front row, left to right: Merrow Bodge, tenor sax; Leo Arnaud (Leo Vauchant), trombone; Lud Gluskin, leader; Faustin Jeanjean, second trumpet, Arthur Pavone, string bass.
3. Members of the Lud Gluskin Orchestra with Jimmy Dorsey in 1930. Taken at Le Touquet, France. Jimmy Dorsey on vacation from Ted Lewis in London visits friends from the Goldkette days. Left to right: unidentified American; Howard Kennedy; Paulie Freed; Gene Prendergast; Eddie Ritten; unidentified Frenchman; Jimmy Dorsey.
Vic Moore (uploaded Jan 12, 2006)
was the drummer of the
Wolverine Orchestra during Bix's tenure with the band. With the invaluable help of Mary
Daniel, grand-niece of Vic Moore, I have gathered some information about
Vic Moore. It is presented here.
Clearly, "M. (i.e. Monsieur) Goldkette" is Louis, and "Mdlle (i.e. Mademoiselle) Goldsmith" is Jeanette Goudsmet, his wife:< style="font-weight: bold;">The Times, 27 Jan. 1862, p.6: <>
"ASTLEY'S ROYAL AMPHITHEATRE — Sole Proprietor and Manager, Mr. W.Batty — THIS EVENING, Rumsey and Newcomb's double troupe of ETHIOPEAN MINSTRELS. New scenes in the Circle by Mdlle. Mazotte, M.Goldkette, and M. Gerard Goldsmidt. To conclude with a Farce."
|A Brief Biography||Articles in Magazines||The Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Society|
|Bix's Musical Genius||Video Tapes||Items of Special Interest|
|Biographies||Audio Tapes||Information of Related Interest|
|Chapters in Books||Museums||A Stamp for Bix in 2003|
|Scholarly Dissertations||Miscellaneous||Links to Related Sites|
|Obituaries||Readers' Queries and Remarks||Celebration of Bix's Musical Legacy|
The Original 78's
Analysis of Some Recordings: Is It Bix or Not ?
Complete Compilations of Bix's Recordings
Tributes to Bix
Miscellaneous Recordings Related to Bix
In A Mist
Bix and Hioagy under construction
Rich J wrote yesterday and told me about the time Hoagy was invited to the Bix festival in Davenport.
<I>”Jim Arpy was reading some of his old articles and found one about Hoagy. Don O'Dette had invited Hoagy to the Bix Festival back in the '70s and Hoagy sent a reply saying that health problems prevented him from attending but, Hoagy enclosed a home recording of an original tune that he written entitled "The Piano Pedal Rag." Hoagy said it was unpublished and he wrote it thinking of Bix and how he would have played it.”</I>
It turns out that the score and the recording of "Piano Pedal Rag" are
available in the Hoagy Carmichael archives. Here are details of the recording.
Title: Piano pedal rag [sound recording] / [composed and performed by] Hoagy Carmichael.
Composer/Performer/etc: Carmichael, Hoagy, 1899-
Publication info: 
Physical description: 1 sound tape reel : analog, 15 ips, full track; 10 in.
Note: Title from container.
Performer note: Hoagy Carmichael, piano.
Event note: Master tape recorded July 11, 1972 at Paramount Recording Studios in Hollywood Calif.
* Ragtime music.
* Piano music (Ragtime).
* Hoagy Carmichael Collection.
Online access: Not available
Call number: 86-745-F ATL 15375
The complete score is found at
In his biography of Hoagy, Sudhalter writes, in connection with a concert (June 27, 1979) in celebration of Hoagy entitled, "The Stardust Road-A Hoagy Carmichael Jubilee."
"Crosby (Bob) motioned the guest of honor (Hoagy) to join him on stage. Hoagy needed no coaxing. Sitting beside Mike Renzi at the piano, he went through an impromptu performance if his Bix-flavored confection
"Piano Pedal Rag."
I just wrote to the Carmichael archives and asked for a copy of the recording. I doubt that they will send it to me, but what the heck, it is only a few strokes on the keyboard and the click of a mouse.
Of course, this is not the first time that Hoagy writes a piece of music under the inspiration of Bix; the immortal “Stardust” is another example.
Here is an excerpt of a CBC 1964 interview of Hoagy where he talks about Bix, Stardust, and other fascinating topics.
Is it true that Stardust is a series of arpeggii (I thought the plural of arpeggio was arpeggios)? It seems to me that, often, a sequence of notes in Stardust do not all belong to a given chord, but I will defer to the experts. Also note that Hoagy tells that he helped invent jazz.