Bix Duke Fats Revisited

Regarding the Rifftides posting about the late Tom Talbert, and comments in later editions, Larry Kart writes from Chicago:

I bought Bix Duke Fats when it came out (in the days when you could listen in your local record shop to things by people you’d never heard of before) and since have acquired everything (I think) of Talbert’s that has been issued. He was special. Among other things, I love the way he could set up particular soloists in order to draw out their gifts—e.g. George Wallington and Aaron Sachs on Bix Duke Fats. Joe Wilder, too, of course, but there I think Talbert was working with what was evident to all, while with Wallington and Sachs, Talbert perhaps zeroed in on parts of their musical souls that lay a bit below the surface or had not been showcased as effectively before—e.g. what Talbert referred to, wonderfully, as Wallington’s “slow-smiling wit.”

While I never had the pleasure of meeting Talbert, his notes to Bix Duke Fats suggest that he must have been a very witty, sophisticated man. I remember in particular his remark about Bix being a “moderne” experimentalist as a composer, in contrast to a full-fledged modern artist like Picasso, who was not experimenting but realizing exactly what he was going for. That distinction made a big impression on my unformed adolescent mind. (BTW, I notice that the CD booklet for Bix Duke Fats removes both the reference to Bix being “moderne” and the contrast to Picasso.)

Larry Kart’s new book is Jazz In Search of Itself (Yale). I’ve mentioned it before. It deserves at least two plugs.

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