Phil Schaap Jazz

Researching the March 19, 1940 Count Basie Orchestra Recording of “Louisiana” that led to exploring “Tickle Toe” from the same date: The Story and the Results

by Phil Schaap For years, the only concern to this extensive examination was to correctly identify the arranger of “Louisiana” as recorded by the Count Basie Orchestra on March 19, 1940. Additional years of research were needed, however, when the delving into that “Louisiana” led to a vital revelation with many particulars. This essay will get to all that, but at the starting point the sole desire was to know FOR SURE who arranged “Louisiana” for Count Basie. That story begins on Christmas Eve 1939. In the late morning of December 24, 1939 the phone rang in the home of Earle Warren. {That would be the leader of the saxes in the Count Basie Orchestra. At the time, the future Chief Justice of the United States Court, Earl Warren, had just become Attorney General of California and was arguably, for the moment, the lesser known Earl(e) Warren.} Calling from NYC’s Penn Station were Tadd Dameron and Freddie Webster. They had just arrived from Cleveland and after plopping a nickel into a pay phone, the two had 10¢ left between them. Earle went to fetch them. The four (Warren’s wife Claire made it four) had a late afternoon Christmas Eve feast; then, Earle Warren went to Carnegie Hall to play in the second “From Spirituals To Swing” concert.  Tadd Dameron and Freddie Webster spent the holidays crashing at the Warren home. Webster had come to the Big Apple to find a trumpet chair in a Big Band and resume a budding career. Tadd had come to New York to launch his. Freddie soon found work and was on his way as he joined the Lucky Millinder Orchestra. Dameron continued his residency on the Warren’s couch. Just 22 and unknown, Tadd Dameron, nevertheless, wished to be a Big Band arranger-composer, turning down work that he desperately needed which only called for him to play piano. Earle Warren spent most of the beginning of 1940 on the road with Count Basie. He could not be Tadd Dameron’s full-time shepherd, and Dameron may well have taken on his own promotion. Earle remembered, though, taking Tadd around to introduce him to prominent Jazz employers including a trip to Harlem’s Golden Gate Ballroom – most likely in mid-March 1940 – where Harlan Leonard and his Rockets had been performing since mid-February. Harlan Leonard would state that he encountered a broke Tadd Dameron at the legendary Woodside Hotel – where the Basie ensemble rehearsed when in NYC. Whether at the Golden Gate or at the Woodside, Earle Warren seems the link to Tadd Dameron meeting and being hired by Harlan Leonard. The arranger-composer was on his way. But whatever Earle Warren’s role in the pivotal moment in young Tadd Dameron’s career when Leonard hired him, Warren had, of course, lobbied his employer – Count Basie – on Tadd’s behalf. The Count would hire Tadd Dameron as a staff arranger in 1944. But they had crossed paths – courtesy of Earle Warren – four years earlier. In placing into Jazz history all these early facts to the Tadd Dameron biography, Warren provided the tip that Tadd Dameron arranged “Louisiana” for the Count Basie Orchestra. Did he? Is Tadd Dameron the arranger of “Louisiana” that the Count Basie Orchestra recorded in the Big Apple on March 19, 1940? [There is an earlier live version done in Boston on March 7, 1940.] If Earle Warren’s tip, really a vague recollection, were the only evidence, then it would be the Best Evidence and there would be no doubt. For at least sixty years, however, the arranger credit has been firmly attributed to Andy Gibson. In 1940, Andy Gibson was a Count Basie staff arranger and had been working with the Count since late 1938. Around 1960, Andy Gibson told Stanley Dance, a Jazzman of letters, that the “Louisiana” arrangement was his. Was it? Is Andy Gibson the arranger of “Louisiana” that the Count Basie Orchestra recorded in the Big Apple on March 19, 1940?   Almost all published listings for that arrangement credit Andy Gibson. Gibson even told Dance that his “Louisiana” chart was one of his four best. The definitive 78RPM discographer, Brian Rust, who did not often publish arranging credit, names Andy Gibson as the arranger of “Louisiana” in the Count Basie section of his legendary “Jazz Records 1897 – 1942”. The rarity to Rust’s arranger attribution is heightened in that the actual first release, Columbia 78RPM 35448, has no arranger credit.  Indeed, nobody had looked into the matter or even looked up Andy Gibson until the President – yes, Lester Young – named Gibson, who not even Stanley Dance or Brian Rust had heard of, as his favorite arranger in the “Musician’s Musicians” poll, published in “The Encyclopedia Yearbook of Jazz” for 1956. The earliest attestations and the preponderance of the evidence cites Andy Gibson as the arranger of Basie’s “Louisiana”. Those two aspects heavily weight the final judgment towards Gibson. One should notice – and this is not a challenge to Andy Gibson’s veracity – that the source of the Gibson listing begins with Andy Gibson. Tadd Dameron was silent on the matter. The only other primary witness known to have made a statement is Earle Warren, who identified the arranger as Tadd Dameron. But if Andy Gibson made his ID twenty years after the fact, then note that Earle Warren’s specific statement to this one point came a bit more than a half-century after the recording. Those are the documents. Any further examination, therefore, must be of the music itself. Does it reveal the signature of the person who wrote it? Before incorporating the scrutiny of several Jazz music wizards, an initial evaluation is that the arrangement sounds very much like Tadd Dameron’s early orchestrations. Yet the evidence that it is by Andy Gibson is too strong to override. The Jazz musician experts who were queried are: Andy Farber, Vincent Gardner, Mark Lopeman, Kenny Washington, and John Wriggle. The most detailed responses came from Mark Lopeman and John Wriggle. Mark Lopeman wrote “The chart seems to me positively chockful of arranging devices that Dameron was using extensively in his other work in the same period, devices that I have not noticed Gibson using, at least not nearly to the same extent, in his charts of the same period. The most obvious of these is the use of ensemble passages with quickly moving melodic/rhythmic figures that move chromatically, with the voicings moving parallel. This sort of thing starts right in the intro and continues to pop up periodically throughout the chart. Dameron’s use of “block voicings” of this type is one of the distinctive features of his style and begins to appear even in his earliest charts. Among other things, this type of writing is noteworthy because it is a kind of definitive break from the rhythm-section-oriented arranging style of earlier Basie records, where the “writing”, when there really is any, as opposed to true “head arrangements”, still leaves the rhythm section mostly playing “time”, laying down the groove, and not necessarily playing written figures (often fast-moving chromatic ones) along with the horns. Also, leaving aside how the figures are scored, taking only the way the written lead-line “figures” sound and swing, the lines seem to me very like early Dameron. So, although I would not want to comment on the convincingness, or not, of anything anybody said about who wrote the chart, if I was asked in the abstract just based on the actual musical content of the chart, I think it quite possible that Dameron wrote it and even would go so far as to say that it sounds more to me like early Dameron to me than it does like Gibson.” John Wriggle wrote “I don’t buy it. The Dameron credit is a long shot, and Louisiana SOUNDS like a Gibson chart: just off the bat, the quarter-note-triplet climax figure, the passages of consecutive half-notes in the background figures, the sax and brass responses to each other (similar to phrasing heard in Avalon for James, and the Limehouse Blues broadcasts by Calloway and Basie). I would need to see significant evidence before I believe its Dameron (or not Gibson). I’m more intrigued by the possibility of Shorty George being a Durham arrangement - though I confess I hadn’t heard that previously. Unlike Louisiana, Shorty George does not sound especially like a Gibson chart to me.” John’s statement introduces to this essay that charts credited to Andy Gibson and Tadd Dameron’s arrangements for Harlan Leonard and his Rockets were {re}heard to assess the identity of the arranger of the Basie “Louisiana”. Whatever the compatibility between Andy Gibson and Count Basie, there was some conflict between them over both the composer credit and the arranging credit for “Shorty George”.   Count Basie, in his autobiography “Good Morning Blues” (with Albert Murray), is unusually proprietary about “Shorty George”. Basie more than once claimed sole composer credit. The original 78RPM label for “Shorty George” (the ‘B’ side of Decca 2325) gives Count Basie, alone, composer credit. John Wriggle examined the 1938 copyright information in Washington, D. C., where “Shorty George” is first identified by “E unpub 182376”.  There is joint composer credit to Gibson, Albert and Basie, Count. There is paperwork dated September 24, 1938, and September 26, 1938. There is a registration document (where “Andy” appears for the first time as “Albert “Andy” Gibson”) that was filed November 18, 1938, two days after the Basie band recorded “Shorty George” still bearing joint composer credit – retaining non-alphabetical order, as was the case in September. The lead sheet is not in the Count’s hand and might well be in Gibson’s. The part of this lead sheet that lists the co-composers is not handwritten, but typed or, perhaps, stamped. It might well have been added after the handwritten lead sheet had been created. The 11/18/1938 filing also refers to application correspondence that probably no longer exists. When “Shorty George” was published by Bregman, Vocco, and Conn, Inc. with the identification “E pub 74026” only one composer was noted – Count Basie. Count Basie also publicly identified the arrangement as a “head” (read: put together or faked by band performance). Jo Jones, who is featured on the November 16, 1938, recording, identified Eddie Durham as the arranger; as did Paul Quinichette, who played much later in the Count Basie Orchestra and performed “Shorty George” regularly during his career. Andy Gibson, probably only aware of Basie’s claims, professed to Stanley Dance that “Shorty George” was his. No legal (from 1938 or otherwise) or additional documentation in paperwork or testimony of the primaries is known to exist regarding who arranged the work. Mark Lopeman wrote “"Shorty George" is certainly not a “head arrangement”, … There are too many carefully scored passages, some with fairly interesting inner voices and voice leading, for that. This to me is a clue that Basie’s own recollections are possibly off the mark. If it is attributed to Andy Gibson, I can hear nothing to contradict that in a comparison to other Gibson charts of similar vintage. If the question is could it have been written by Eddie Durham instead, or could Durham have helped to edit and revise a chart that Gibson wrote, the answer is probably that that could have happened, but I don’t see how we could ever know that now.” Count Basie was a very good man. He was very kind to his musical associates and they loved him. The music business in those years (any year?) was not helpful to unknowns placing their compositions with name bands. Record companies, music publishers, looking out for their earnings and to simplify the paperwork would in such situations only deal with the leader. This led to a practice of ‘the leader’s prerogative’ where not even a band’s prominent members would get composer credit even when they wrote the work. In Basie’s sideman years, he was a victim to this practice and likely felt entitled when he was at the other end. Regardless to what Count Basie felt or did and whatever infringement that Andy Gibson may have felt over credit for “Shorty George”, Andy Gibson remained a staff arranger for Count Basie well into the 1940s. They got along and it seems plausible that Gibson received some form of payment in lieu of royalties for a piece that likely he, alone, composed. Returning to John Wriggle’s statement, he drew attention to Andy Gibson’s chart of “Avalon” recorded by the Harry James Orchestra. Remarkably, the label of the original release of the James’ November 8, 1939 recording of “Avalon”, Columbia 78RPM 35316, credits Gibson with the arrangement. Such citations are rare! A bit more than twenty years later, Gibson stated that he arranged “Avalon” for the Harry James Orchestra. This provides a general credence to the lists of his arrangements that Andy Gibson provided Stanley Dance in 1960. The points being that this “Avalon” is confirmed Gibson music, suitable for musical comparison; and that Andy Gibson submissions to Dance were sincere and most likely accurate. John Wriggle also cited broadcast performances by both the Count Basie Orchestra and the Cab Calloway Orchestra of “Limehouse Blues”. Using his ear – there is no documentation of any kind as to who is responsible for the scores – John identifies the writing as by Andy Gibson. Further, Wriggle hears a strong similarity between these two adaptations to a level that finds them to be almost one and the same. Count Basie’s first performances of “Limehouse Blues” begin in mid-October 1938. It surfaces around the time that Gibson first connected with the Count. John feels no challenge by this hiccup in the timeline. And he stands by that feeling when confronted with the same timeline kerfuffle with Cab Calloway’s “Limehouse Blues” that first appears on July 27, 1940. Using Gibson’s claim to have arranged “Come On With The Come On” for Cab that surfaced a month earlier, John Wriggle’s assignment of the arranger credit for the “Limehouse Blues” by the Cab Calloway Orchestra to Andy Gibson fits chronologically, but narrowly. Using the Count Basie and Cab Calloway versions of “Limehouse Blues” to gain a reference point of Andy Gibson’s style can lead to questioning why he did not claim these arrangements when he provided his credits to Stanley Dance. Today, the distinction that formally recorded and commercially offered for sale music were the only knowable music is not perceived. But in Andy Gibson’s lifetime (b. 11/6/1913 – d. 2/10/1961) such music so outweighed live settings and broadcasts that may have been preserved, that the live/broadcast materials didn’t count. So, Gibson only mentioned to Dance his arrangements that had been officially recorded for release. Turning to the other wise-wig, big eared correspondents’ opinions: Andy Farber wrote a nice message supporting Gibson as the arranger of “Shorty George” but could not reach a decision about “Louisiana”; and Kenny Washington reached no conclusions but had heard a broadcast where Earle Warren credited the chart of “Louisiana” to Tadd Dameron.  Vincent Gardner, however, strongly voiced his viewpoint. Mr. Gardner is devout in his identification of the “Louisiana” arrangement being penned by Tadd Dameron. Vincent has walked many listeners through that music with detailed comparisons to Dameron’s 1940 orchestrations and compositions for Harlan Leonard and his Rockets. He hears a match. There is a concern, here – Pace Vincent – that the comparison was far more a matching of the Count Basie “Louisiana” to the Tadd Dameron creations for Harlan Leonard than a contrasting of Gibson and Dameron. Taking in the impressions of Messrs. Farber, Gardner, Lopeman, Washington, and Wriggle, the appraisal, here, remains that the arrangement of Count Basie’s “Louisiana” sounds very much like the work of young Tadd Dameron, but the affirmation that Andy Gibson authored that music is too solid to be countermanded. As with the possibility that both Eddie Durham and Andy Gibson worked on the arrangement of “Shorty George”, there remains the possibility that both Dameron and Gibson worked on the “Louisiana” chart. But why did Count Basie choose to record “Louisiana”? And why didn’t the effort to determine who arranged the tune for the Count look into Basie’s desire to wax “Louisiana” in the first place? That’s a fair criticism – but however belated, Count Basie’s selecting “Louisiana” has received a deep focus. It’s odd that this barely touched 1928 J. C. Johnson composition (there are words, too, by Andy Razaf) would be resurrected by the Basie Band twelve years after the creation and brief currency of “Louisiana”. In the preceding 12 years, there had only been two recordings of “Louisiana” – one done in Sweden and Toots Mondello’s version for Varsity. Why would the Count be interested in renewing it or even knowing of the tune’s existence? Early in the arrangement of the Count Basie Orchestra recording of “Louisiana” comes a fairly fixed passage of music furnished as a trumpet solo by Harry “Sweets” Edison. There are two takes of the March 19, 1940 recording of “Louisiana” and the similarity in Sweets’ trumpet between the takes, supports that the arrangement is providing direction of what’s to be played. That fairly fixed passage triggers the explanation for “Louisiana” getting into the Basie band’s book. Sweets Edison appears to be replicating, or at least significantly paraphrasing, the 16 bars of improvisation by Bix Beiderbecke on the April 23, 1928 Paul Whiteman Orchestra recording of “Louisiana”. [There are two takes, hence two Beiderbecke improvisations, both knowable as of March 19, 1940: take one (BVE 43667-1) released on July 6, 1928 and take three (BVE 43667-3) released on July 30, 1936. That it’s two takes somewhat addles the quotation aspect of Sweets’ playing. The similarity in both takes by Sweets on bars 15 & 16 to Bix’s bars 15 & 16 on take one supports that Whiteman’s take one issued in 1928 on Victor 78RPM 21438 is the model. A separate reasoning that it’s BVE 43667-1 and not BVE 43667-3 is coming soon.] Beiderbecke’s blowing on “Louisiana” being incorporated into the Basie rendition becomes the first and key clue to figuring out why the Count waxed his own version. For many readers/listeners this may be too hard to fathom, but the solution, the connection, is Lester Young and his deep appreciation of Bix Beiderbecke. If this seems a stretch, then, in true Jazz parlance, the essay will stretch out to make the point. The first piece of evidence was provided by the President, himself. Lester Young shocked several interviewers and the Jazz world in general when he revealed that his inspiration was the C melody saxophonist Frankie Trumbauer and that the pivotal music to Pres’ embracing Tram as his model was the February 4, 1927 Trumbauer recording (from his first session as a leader) of “Singin’ The Blues” that Lester knew as a new release on red-labeled OKeh 40772, a disc that listed – in a seldom seen instance on a 78RPM disc of a sideman being credited – Bix. The President’s public plaudits for Frankie Trumbauer are far more numerous than those that acknowledge Bix Beiderbecke; however, on no fewer than two occasions, Lester Young, on the record, heaped praise on Bix, even naming recordings including another Trumbauer side, “Way Down Yonder In New Orleans” (OKeh 40833). Pres recorded “Way Down Yonder In New Orleans” as a member of the Kansas City Six, a Basie band small group, who recorded for Commodore on September 27, 1938. It was one of two tunes from the five done that day on which Young improvised on both tenor sax and clarinet (Lester primarily plays clarinet with this Kansas City Six). Music Director Eddie Durham allowed that Prez suggested “Way Down Yonder In New Orleans”. It’s known that Freddie Green chose “Them There Eyes”. “Countless Blues” and “Pagin’ The Devil” are original to the session. Why “I Want A Little Girl” was included goes unexplained.  On the second of the two tunes on which Lester Young features both tenor sax and clarinet, “Them There Eyes”, his clarinet solo launches with a quotation of Bix Beiderbecke’s solo from the November 25, 1927 Paul Whiteman Orchestra recording of “(What Are You Waiting For?) Mary”. Young plays the quote on both takes of “Them There Eyes”. [To that matter and to illustrate full disclosure: Bix plays the passage on both takes of “(…) Mary”, as those notes are written into the arrangement of the Walter Donaldson tune by Matty Malneck. But Bix stamps them with his own genius.] Pressing on, the second known take (take four) was not issued until 11/17/1939; so, on 9/27/1938, Pres is quoting take two from Victor 78RPM 21103 released in very early 1928. This could be the right place to state that Lester Young’s Beiderbecke citations are derived from the records released in the late 1920s, that Pres knew and learned from in those Jazz Age days. This means, that in general, Lester was probably only aware of the originally issued takes. Prez’ quoting Bix from “(What Are You Waiting For) Mary” in his clarinet solo on the KC6’s “Them There Eyes” is incontrovertible evidence that Young heard Beiderbecke on Paul Whiteman recordings and not just on Frank Trumbauer’s. But there’s an even hotter smoking gun. Lester Young borrowed a six bar improvisation by Bix Beiderbecke from Paul Whiteman’s March 12, 1928 recording of “When” for the President’s most thorough composition, “Tickle Toe”.  This document makes note that on the label to the original release of the March 19, 1940 “Tickle Toe”, Columbia 78RPM 35521, it’s “TICKLE-TOE”, a hyphen and not two words, in all CAPS. Tickle Toe was a tap dancer in Tulsa, Oklahoma who Lester Young befriended. The arranger is Andy Gibson. The label to Columbia 35521 does not contain an arranger credit. The listing that the arrangement is by Andy Gibson is infrequently published – the published credit listing Gibson for the arrangement of “Louisiana” is, by contrast, seen in several references. The Andy Gibson arranger credit for “Tickle Toe” is rooted in Gibson’s submissions to Stanley Dance around 1960. It could be that the arrangement to Prez’ most complete piece, “Tickle Toe”, and that the arrangement was by Andy Gibson was the basis for Young’s naming Gibson as his favorite arranger in 1956. Regardless to the questioning of Gibson having charted “Louisiana”, there has never been any dispute over Andy Gibson having orchestrated “Tickle Toe”. In composing “Tickle Toe”, Pres’ uses a 32 bar A/B/A/C construction that subdivides its ‘C’ into 6 plus 2. Such a cut-off to pick-up device is rarely deployed these days, but it has a performance benefit, and was far more common in the Swing Era and earlier. Yes, it’s a logical approach to putting over a tune, but it is not the explanation to its use on “Tickle Toe”. For the piece’s ‘C’ section, composer Lester Young borrows, as mentioned, a six bar improvisation by Bix Beiderbecke. This would be Bix’s 2nd six bar solo on take 2 of the March 12, 1928 Paul Whiteman Orchestra recording of “When”. [Take 3 was also issued under the same label of Victor 78RPM 21338, but Lester undoubtedly had no access to that extraordinarily rare take and, in any case, quotes from take 2.] Young’s purpose of using a six bar passage for the ‘C’ in a song form that requires eight bars reveals why all ‘C’ sections to the March 19, 1940 recording by the Basie band of “Tickle Toe” contain a 6 plus 2 subdivide. In the record’s final twelve bars, the arrangement has the sax section playing the precise 6 bar Beiderbecke solo. This is followed by two bars of stings from the rest of the band (completing the 6 & 2), followed by a 4 bar tag with the sax section reprising bars 5 & 6 of Bix’s solo to two more bars of band stings with Lester audible and adlibbing. There are a few more instances of Lester Young utilizing Bix Beiderbecke’s blowing that won’t be detailed here. But there’s more to be pointed out about “Tickle Toe” and “Tickle Toe” vis-a-vis “When” that will help guide the essay to its insight that Pres’ knowledge of Bix and Bix on Paul Whiteman recordings led Lester Young to bring “Louisiana” to Count Basie, explaining why the Count would record such an obscure work. [It should be inserted that Bill Challis, Bix’s dear friend and a key music colleague, arranged “Louisiana” for Paul Whiteman.] It’s been pointed out that Lester Young’s most thorough composition “Tickle Toe” used a six bar improvisation by Bix Beiderbecke – Bix’s 2nd six bar solo on take 2 of the March 12, 1928 Paul Whiteman Orchestra recording of “When” – for its ‘C’. But almost as telling is the ‘C’ part of the A/B/A/C “Tickle Toe” using harmony from “When”. Chords from “When” are used in all ‘C’ sections of “Tickle Toe” even when (or if) the six bars of Bix are not used or referred to. [“When” was composed by J. C. Johnson. The 3/12/1928 Paul Whiteman recording of “When” uses Andy Razaf’s lyric. The arrangement is by Tom Satterfield.] The problem of using 6 bars of music for a section where the song form requires eight results in all four choruses of the March 19, 1940 Count Basie Orchestra recording of “Tickle Toe” deploying a 6 plus 2 construction.  In the first chorus, the ‘C’ features Harry “Sweets” Edison’s trumpet for 6 bars and a two bar pick-up by Lester Young that launches his solo, the feature to “Tickle Toe”’s  second chorus. Sweets’ six bars can be and might very well should be heard as a paraphrase of Bix’s 2nd six bar solo on take 2 of the Whiteman “When”. Lester Young’s tenor saxophone solo on his own composition “Tickle Toe” that dominates the 2nd chorus is 32 bars long, the length of the song’s chorus form. But in reality, it’s a 2 plus 30 construction that begins with the last two bars of the first chorus and pulls up two bars shy of the end of the 2nd chorus. The ‘C’ to “Tickle Toe”, here, is again divided - the last six bars of Prez’ solo into a 2 bar fill by Count Basie’s piano. It would be very hard to deny that Lester Young’s 6 bar part of the 2nd chorus’ ‘C’ quotes with paraphrases Bix’s 6 bars that are essential to the composition. The third chorus of the March 19, 1940 recording alternates between the band and its leader’s piano. The Count solos for 6 bars in the ‘C’ that ends with a 2 bar drum break by Jo Jones. The subtlety of Basie’s ‘less is more’ piano playing in the 3rd chorus’ ‘C’ may mask his citation entirely, but for at least 3 or 4 of the six bars, a strong reference to Bix’s solo can be heard. The fourth and last chorus has in its ‘C’ the sax section playing the precise 6 bar Beiderbecke solo followed by two bars of stings from the rest of the band. The record ends with a 4 bar tag, the sax section reprising bars 5 & 6 of Bix’s solo to two more bars of band stings over which Lester’s tenor adlibs. Stated again: the fourth chorus’ ‘C’ makes absolutely clear the dominance of Bix’s 2nd six bar solo on take 2 of the Whiteman “When” to Lester’s composition “Tickle Toe”. What’s to be made of all of this? Can these loose threads – that will in time be challenged in these very document – be woven into whole cloth? This essay follows a trail. Whatever the happenstance of noticing that the Count Basie Orchestra recorded “Tickle Toe” on the same day – Tuesday, March 19, 1940 – that it recorded “Louisiana”, an inquiry to why Basie in 1940 recorded “Louisiana”, an obscure tune from 1928, led to an observation that the arrangement of Count’s “Louisiana” references Bix Beiderbecke’s solo on the very same piece in the most prominent recording of “Louisiana” in its 1928 year, the Paul Whiteman Orchestra version of April 23, 1928. If Lester Young through “Tickle Toe” brought Bix Beiderbecke music into the vocabulary of Count Basie music, then would he not logically be the prime candidate for bringing “Louisiana” and more Bix blowing to the Basie book? The explanatory power of the President being the source to Count selecting “Louisiana” is so clear that it allows belief even when the only substantial clue is a 16 bar trumpet passage in the recording’s second chorus where Harry “Sweets” Edison gives an impression of playing written music, however he decorates it, that is interpreted as the arrangement providing Bix’s half chorus from the 1928 Whiteman track.  By the way, on “Louisiana”, that 2nd chorus’ second half is a 16 bar solo by Pres. Parenthetically, Lester’s solo on the original 78RPM take was heard and would ten years later be quoted from by Charlie Parker while Bird was soloing on “Pennies From Heaven”.  Admittedly, using Lester Young’s admiration of Bix Beiderbecke and Pres’ documented knowledge of Bix solos on Paul Whiteman recordings would not easily affix Count Basie’s “Louisiana” to Bix with Whiteman on “Louisiana’ were it not recorded the same day as “Tickle Toe”. Notice that both these March 1940 Basie items quickly disappear from the band’s performances as would Lester Young in early December. Those facts add to the important understanding that the Bix-Prez connection is what led to the Count Basie Orchestra recording both “Tickle Toe” and “Louisiana”. It is a bit peculiar that entirely different research – the initial desire to know whether Tadd Dameron or Andy Gibson arranged “Louisiana” for Count Basie – led to this important understanding. Now for the pushback. Mark Lopeman all but denounced that the trumpet passage played by Harry “Sweets” Edison early in the Basie “Louisiana” had any connection – other than musical logic – to Beiderbecke’s blowing on Whiteman’s version. Mark also pointed out that there was no documentation that Lester Young inspired Count Basie’s choosing to record the work. That second point is true, but whether to be known finitely or not, there must be an explanation to why in early 1940 Count Basie took on the, by then, obscure 1928 composition. Subsequent to 1928, there had only been two additional recordings of “Louisiana”, the one done in Sweden and Toots Mondello’s version for Varsity. Far more likely to have been noticed was Victor Records prominently releasing in the summer of 1936 a new take (BVE 43667-3) of the “Louisiana” recorded by the Paul Whiteman Orchestra with Bix on April 23, 1928. But if any, or any two, or all three have a bearing on why Count Basie selected the tune in early 1940, there is no documentation to show that. Further: if those recordings of “Louisiana” could provide an explanation to the Basie band playing the song, then could they not have caused it by reaching the ears of Andy Gibson, or Tadd Dameron, or Lester Young, instead? The life, careers, music, and public statements of Tadd Dameron and Andy Gibson reveal virtually no acknowledgement of Bix Beiderbecke. They never cite specific improvisations by Bix or his repertoire and the same goes for Count Basie. But Lester Young does! Vince Giordano came to the research and analysis late in the project. Vince dug in on “Tickle Toe” and “When”. The “smoking gun” impressed him and Vince was quick to confirm that the ‘C’ section in the fourth and last chorus of “Tickle Toe” has the Basie reed section voicing Bix’s 2nd six bar solo on take 2 on the Whiteman “When”. But Vince is not convinced that the 6 plus 2 subdivision in all four ‘C’s in the 3/19/1940 “Tickle Toe” are due to Lester Young, the composer, using a 6 bar phrase when 8 bars are needed to fill the space. Giordano notes that a 6 & 2 dividing of 8 bars of music is common to early Jazz and leans to that practice explaining the appearances of 6 plus 2 in all four choruses of “Tickle Toe”. Further, Vince Giordano does not connect the six bars by Sweets’ trumpet, those six by Pres in his solo, or Basie’s in the third chorus to Bix’s six bars on the Whiteman “When”. Vince feels all three are perfectly logical improvisations over the same chords from “When” as was Bix’s – these six bar passages are comparable but different. Zeroing in on Edison’s 6 bars of featured trumpet in the 1st chorus ‘C’ of “Tickle Toe”, Giordano declared that it is not a quotation or paraphrase of Bix’s 2nd six bar solo on take 2 of the Whiteman “When”. If the next preserved recording of “Tickle Toe” were to be heard – the Lester Young Quintet concert performance at the Manhattan Center on February 15, 1941 – then might it clarify that Bix’s solo through Prez is governing the notes in the ‘C’s and the 6 plus 2 subdivision? On this 2/15/1941 “Tickle Toe” only Prez’ first solo chorus ignores that 6 & 2 construction. Trumpeter Shad Collins and guitarist John Collins (no relation) divide the ‘C’s to their blowing into 6 & 2. Besides their full length solos, in the last two ensemble choruses, Shad on the first and John on the second, play the 6 bars of the ‘C’ in ways that refer to Bix on “When”. Neither Sweets Edison, nor Count Basie, nor Shad Collins, nor John Collins were likely aware of Bix’s 2nd six bar solo on take 2 of the Whiteman “When”, but they did know what composer Lester Young had put into the ‘C’ section of the melody to “Tickle Toe” and all four refer to that passage when they are spotlighted. That Vince Giordano and Mark Lopeman refute that those soloists are quoting or paraphrasing snatches of Bix Beiderbecke, particularly Sweets Edison’s trumpet work, calls attention to how Jazz is perceived by different types of its listeners. Even when Jazz musicians are members of the most learned sets of Jazz researchers, their being players – improvising soloists – bestows a sensibility or cognizance of what’s going on when a Jazz artist is creating that is not fully shared by the non-player. There are many occasions where both groups are unanimous in evaluating music and there are often disagreements within either classification on discerning what was intended. [Notice the disagreement between Mark Lopeman as well as Vincent Gardener with John Wriggle on the arranger credit for “Louisiana”.] Indeed, the reader/listener may be frustrated by a near absence of consensus on all music in question in this essay. The high quality of the Jazz artists that were turned to should offer some comfort to the reader/listener that the best analysis was undertaken regardless to the residue of unresolved concerns. Trying to decide who arranged “Louisiana” for Count Basie led to other music. Certainly, the examination of Andy Gibson’s arrangements and Tadd Dameron’s arrangements (or at least his contemporaneous arrangements to 1940) was pertinent to pinpointing who penned it. The why to Count Basie’s turning to J. C. Johnson’s little known “Louisiana” needed to be probed. It would be very pertinent to who orchestrated Count’s “Louisiana” had the search found an earlier connection between the piece and Dameron and/or Gibson. No such relationship was uncovered. But the challenge of finding the inspiration to the 1940 Count Basie Orchestra performing “Louisiana” brought on significant Jazz insight that, however little bearing it brought to the arranger credit, demanded that research continue. A whole new world of revelation was opened. “Tickle Toe” and “Louisiana”, recorded at the same session – the one of March 19, 1940 – form the largest outcropping of Bixian influence on Count Basie music. If you believe that Count Basie’s “Tickle Toe” or “Louisiana” have something to do with Bix Beiderbecke, then Lester Young must be the connection. -Phil Schaap December 2, 2020 The flow to this article may have partially masked my reverence for the musicians who examined the music. While Vincent Gardner, Mark Lopeman, and John Wriggle weighed in most significantly on the “Louisiana” arranger credit and Vince Giordano and Mark Lopeman were the two who spoke out concerning the Bix Beiderbecke – Lester Young connection, all these astounding talents, that includes Andy Farber and Kenny Washington, received all of the research. I am honored that they reviewed it and gave me their thoughts.