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The pop song “Singing the Blues” was written in 1920 by a team of composers (Robinson-Conrad-Lewis-Young) and was recorded that year by both the Original Dixieland Jass Band and singer Aileen Stanley. Both recordings were on the Victor label. But the inspiration for my improvisation here is the famous 1927 recording on the Okeh label by Bix Beiderbecke and his group.

Bix’s jazz is not as brilliant as that of Louis Armstrong, nor is it as dramatic. But it is wonderful stuff, more sophisticated harmonically and more purely melodic. It is serene and musical. I have long loved this style.

I am not trying to recreate an improvisation in a historical style here, though. Rather I am reacting to Bix’s music in my own way. I sing the tune, dance the rhythm, always following the harmonic progression while using the stride style texture, mixing melodic riffs with tone clusters and dissonant tones, spreading the activity over the whole keyboard, walking a fine line between Bix’s music of a hundred years ago with that of today.