The piano wizard spent last weekend co-directing The Statesman of Jazz band at the annual Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Weekend in Davenport, Iowa. Not surprising, really, since Dick has been a fan of Bix for most of his life – and has celebrated it in numerous ways, most recently on the CDs If Bix Played Gershwin (Arbors Records) and Thinking About Bix (Reference Recordings). He’s also a wonderful ambassador for Bix’s piano compositions.
He says: “Bix’s music had a powerful effect on me from the first records of his which my big brother brought home from college. They were ’78 reissues of Somebody Stole My Gal, Rhythm King, I’m Coming Virginia and Singin’ the Blues. Those titles remain precious to me among the 200 or so recordings which Bix played on.
“It is not only the notes, which are Mozartian in their mixture of the perfect melodic sequence and then the astonishing unexpected turns of phrase, but the way the notes are played: at times boldly and fortissimo, then tender and imploring, dead center on pitch or with a blues-inflected quaver. It is difficult and finally impossible to describe music in words, but these are some of the things I hear in his playing …”