In A Mist

The Origin of the Music
The OKeh File Card of  "In A Mist".
The Sheet Music of "In A Mist"
Other Sources of the Sheet Music of "In A Mist."
The Origin of the Title
Bix's Public Performance of "In A Mist"
In A Mist of Bixology?
The Composition
Commentaries (under construction)
Some Recordings of "In A Mist"
A Piano Roll of "In A Mist"
An Arrangement of "In A Mist" for Piano
An Arrangement of "In A Mist" for Accordion
Fred Elizalde's Public performance of "In A Mist" in 1929.
The Case of the Two "In A Mists."

           Title:     Jazz Piano Roots: The Case of the Two "In a Mists"
         Author:     Hyman, Dick
         Reference:     Piano Today  26:2 [Spring 2006] p. 25
         IIMP Citation Number:     00452744

Dick Hyman

    I recently prepared a transcription for the Twyla Tharp Dance Foundation of a piece I've been playing in two different forms since I was a teenager. The back story, as journalists say, is complex and goes like this:

Bix Beiderbecke's only solo piano recording, In A Mist, took place in New York on September 9, 1927. The piece, his own composition, also released under the title Bixology, seems to have been in the making for several years; his friends described him as frequently extemporizing similar material on whatever piano was available. He was 24, already an experienced performer on cornet with the Jean Goldkette Orchestra, and had gigged around the Midwest since dropping out of school.

Although he had become known as a startlingly inventive soloist, both on cornet and piano, Bix's reading skill had always lagged behind, and to notate the new piece for publication, Bix sought the services of Bill Challis, a close associate who had arranged many of the scores for the Goldkette Orchestra. As printed the following year, In A Mist bears a credit for Challis for ''editing.''

The differences between the recorded and published versions of In A Mist are both great and small: great in that the recording entirely omits a pretty, slower section marked Tranquilly and substitutes a more rhythmic passage. The small differences are those variations an improvising jazz player tends to make when repeating material, offering equivalent but not identical figures (compare bars 7 and 81).

All of this proved to be important for a proposed dance series by the Twyla Tharpe Dancers back in 1979. Twyla had choreographed ''The Bix Pieces,'' which included In A Mist, and had been performing it to a series of recordings. For the new season at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, an on-stage pianist and orchestra would perform the music live. I was called in to arrange and perform the whole sequence, and it was the first time I encountered the problem of the two In A Mists: the dancers were used to the recorded version, and it wouldn't do for the pianist to play the considerably different published version.

Since I was familiar with the piece at that time, I made an approximate version of the recording for my own use, a little more detailed than a lead sheet but not altogether exact, and we performed ''The Bix Pieces'' live a number of times. I don't believe the dance has been done with piano and orchestra since that time. Recently, however, the possibility of another live performance has come up, not necessarily by Twyla Tharpe's dancers nor with me as the pianist, so I was commissioned to get the recorded version on paper so that it might be accurately read by another player. This is the result of those efforts.

The following pages include the sheet music as detailed below.

         IIMP Citation Number:     [00452745]
        Author:     Beiderbecke, Bix
        Document Title:     "In a Mist"
        Reference:     Piano Today 26:2 [Spring 2006] p. 25-30
        Abstract:     The sheet music of Bix Beiderbecke's "In a Mist" for solo piano, transcribed by Dick Hyman from the
        1927 recording by the composer, is presented.

          Commentaries (under construction)


At the invitation of our excellent contemporary, The Melody Maker, some three thousand five hundred enthusiastic dance musicians and their friends assembled at the Shepherd's Bush Pavilion on Sunday, June 23rd, to hear a concert by Mr. Fred Elizalde's famous Savoy Band. The applications of another thousand had to be reluctantly refused.

The orchestra, which is the most advanced dance band in Europe, is perhaps not so good an ensemble as that of Jack Hylton or Bert Ambrose, but is more interesting to listen to. While it contains some very bright stars, it also has its weak places, notably the strings section, as was obvious when anything more ambitious than ordinary dance music was attempted. The brass, with the exception of the first trumpet, was not always satisfactory, and the "slapping" of the double basses and the strumming of the banjo and guitar to emphasise the rhythm were sometimes overdone, especially when one of the wind instruments was taking a solo. But these defects were greatly outweighed by some clever piano playing by Elizalde himself, the strength of the saxophones and other reed instruments and the first trumpet of Mr. Norman Payne, who took the lead at the last moment owing to the absence of Mr. Chelsea Quealey, who has been recalled suddenly to America. But where the band scores is in the brilliant arrangements and orchestration of Mr. Fud Livingstone and Mr. Phil Cardew, who make even the dullest dance tune something worth hearing.

I must pass over the performance of contemporary dance music, good as it was, to the event of the afternoon. This was a suite, Bataclan, composed specially for the occasion by Mr. Elizalde. I must confess that I awaited this with a certain amount of scepticism. I have heard many of these ambitious suites for dance orchestras and, without exception, I have never been able to get rid of the idea that their only merit has been to show off the tricks of the performers. Bataclan was different. It would be foolish to judge it at a first hearing, but it was good enough to make one forget the performers and listen to the music for its own sake. I should like to hear it performed by a really large orchestra where due prominence could be given to the strings. Mr. Elizalde, at the age of twenty-one, is undoubtedly quite exceptional in the dance world. Here is an opportunity for the recording companies. We get far too few records from Brunswick.

I must conclude with a word of praise for a composition by Bix Beiderbecke (Whiteman's first trumpet) entitled In A Mist and for the final encore, which was that splendid piece of ragtime Tiger Rag. Finally, all credit is due to Mr. Edgar Jackson, editor of The Melody Maker, who was not only responsible for the organisation but proved himself a born announcer.


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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