About the Book

1929

1929

A Novel of the Jazz Age
April 2004
Trade Paperback · 400 Pages
$16.95 U.S.
ISBN 9781582433097
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Description

By 1929, the brief, brilliant career of Bix Beiderbecke—self-taught cornetist, pianist, and composer—had already become legend. From the summer of '26 at Hudson Lake, Indiana, when his genius blazed forth with a strange, doomed incandescence, Bix's career tragically reflected the chaotic impulses of a country suddenly awash in wealth, power, and a profound cynicism. Shy, elusive, inarticulate, Bix was beloved by both the raccoon-coated campus crowd and the men who nightly played alongside him. He is still celebrated in a yearly festival in his hometown of Davenport, Iowa.And that is where the novel begins, Davenport and the Bix Fest. Then it travels back in time to focus on the highlights of a meteoric career: a Capone-controlled nightclub in 1926; the grueling cross-country tours with Paul Whiteman's Symphonic Jazz orchestra; the disastrous Whiteman trip to California to make the first all-color talkie musical; the stock market crash of 1929 that finds Bix in an asylum, victim of the era's signature product, bootleg gin; and finally, Bix's dying efforts to combine his piano compositions into a suite that would be the pinnacle of his life's work and his evocation of his time and place.Colored by some of the age's most popular characters—Maurice Ravel, Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Clara Bow— 1929 brilliantly illuminates a period in history, personified in the gifted, compelling, and melancholy figure of Bix Beiderbecke.