Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Bix and Fleischer

I've been a fan of 20's jazz cornet player Bix Beiderbecke for years. Oddly enough I got into Bix and Fleischer cartoons separately. After a little reading I discovered that Bix's first band The Wolverines had a well known engagement in 1924 at a night club in Times Square called The Cinderella Ballroom. Then I noticed the address: 1600 Broadway! As it happens a great jazz musician was performing only a few floors beneath a great animation studio!

The Wolverines in 1924

I believe (but am not certain) that the Cinderella Ballroom might be pictured in this photo of the Fleischer strike in 1937. By that time I believe the name had changed.  According to Richardson Turner who is interviewed in Philip and Linda Evans book 'Bix': "When the Wolverines opened, about ten of us went down to N.Y. the next day and flew right over to the Cinderella, which was a large ballroom a la Roseland, one flight up.". Tragically this building was demolished for condos a few years back.

There were a couple other cartoon connections in Bix's career too. Here pictured is an ad for 'Felix the Cat': a song on which Bix recorded. Also the label for perhaps the best band Bix played with (Frankie Trumbauer) performing 'Krazy Kat'.

According to this famous cartoon the Fleischer Studios moved in after November 1923. The Wolverine engagement ran from Sept 12 - October 11, 1924. According to Cabarga's book 'Vaudeville', 'Vacation', 'League of Nations', and 'The Cure' (all Koko cartoons?) were released in November/December 1924. Assuming the quick turn-around of silent cartoons I suppose these might have been in production. I wonder .... 

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