Bix Beiderbecke's Cornet

Vincent Bach Cornet No. 620

Photo by R.M. Sudhalter

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This is an image of the actual cornet that was used by the great Bix Beiderbecke. The image was scanned in from the 1974 book, "Bix: Man & Legend," by Richard M. Sudhalter and Philip R. Evans (Arlington House Publishers, NY; ISBN 0-87000-268-6).

Bix purchased a similar horn, No. 616 in New York City on February 17, 1927 from a music store on West 48th Street, and on this date ordered the gold-plated one pictured here, which was sent to him later that month. Cornet No. 616 ended up with Bix's friend Cornetist Jimmy McPartland. Both horns were described as having a medium large bore. Bix used a Bach number seven mouthpiece with both of these horns.

Interestingly enough, Bix had bought Jimmy another horn several years earlier in October of 1924, when McPartland replaced Bix as lead cornet in the Wolverine Orchestra. When Bix presented this first horn to Jimmy, he protested. Bix retorted: "Look kid, I like you, you're a good guy. You sound like I do but you don't copy me. You play your own stuff. So take the horn and blow it."

The man of course was a legend, but so, it seems is this horn! The following was reprinted from the San Francisco Examiner, February 12, 1993 in Philip Elwood's "Jazz Beat" column:

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The Night They Played Bix's Horn

There are more events in the Bay Area jazz community than are dreamt of by those whose definition of this indigenous American music becomes narrower by the year.

Recently we went to a jazz celebration at a Peninsula home where a couple dozen trumpeters and cornetists (and other jazz instrumentalists) had gathered.

They'd come from all over the West Coast, some from the Midwest, jumping at the chance to help celebrate the acquisition by a Bay Area couple of the legendary 1920s jazz great Bix Beiderbecke's own horn; a Vincent Bach B-flat cornet, Stradivarius model, with "Bix" and "Faciebat Anno 1927" engraved on the bell.

The cornetists and trumpeters, each with mouthpiece in hand, waited to play a tune on Bix's horn: the very horn that their idol used to record such classics as "Riverboat Shuffle," "Jazz Me Blues," "Since My Best Gal Turned Me Down" and all of his famous solos with Paul Whiteman's orchestra.

It was a long celebration; trumpeters leaving gigs were dropping in long after midnight to take their turns. Other bandsmen came and went.

What an evening!

I've loved the recorded sound of Bix's horn all my life. Having the cornet itself in the midst of the Bay Area jazz scene warms my heart.

I'd feel the same if it were Clifford Brown's or Miles Davis' trumpet.

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