BIX BEIDERBECKE - PHIL EVANS PROJECT
What this project is about, well..it's about preserving, restoring and making digital one of largest and most rare collections of the History of Jazz! This archive was started 60 years ago by Philip R. Evans, whose quest in life was to gather as much "First Person" information that could be found about the life and times of Leon Bix Beiderbecke. And this he did! There are Hundreds of hours of taped interviews going back to the early 1950's of Bix's friends, family, as well as countless musicians...many famous...who crossed paths with Bix Beiderbecke. And many of these famous musicians also tell of their life story in the music world as well! This collection would be considered the "King Tuts Tomb" of jazz history. Most of it is previously unknown information! You can see quite a bit of rare Bix and early Jazz History if you care to check out my Facebook account.
This collection has so many thousands of letters collected from a half century of gathering information, that it's hard to even estimate. Not to mention Hundreds of hours of very old acetate Reel-to-Reel taped interviews, and of course...many boxes of cassettes as well. My plan is to release a new book on Bix Beiderbecke which is at least 95% in the exact words of the people who knew him. No guess work involved. No made up drama, such as the absurd story told about Bix's relationship with his family, which one writer made a career out of. It simply was a lie and didn't happen. My own writing will be sparse...perhaps to explain to the reader about a certain event, or who the person speaking is and how are they are a valid part of this story.
But even more important than the book at this point...is the urgent need to preserve, restore and make digital this entire collection. Hundreds of pages of Xerox copies of one of a kind articles, whose originals cannot be found...are fading fast. I am in a race against time to catch these pages and re-scan them and bring them back to life through several photo programs I use.
And the same thing goes with many of those old acetate Reel-To-Reel tape recordings. I have copied and saved many of them already, sitting for hours watching the tape transfer and catching the breaks from brittle tapes, repairing them and continuing on till the next break occurs. I have also worn out a half dozen scanners as well. The yellow brittle newspaper and magazine articles are scanned, the yellow and dark spots are removed.
Once this collection is restored, and the book is finally published...the final goal will be to place the entire archive in a chosen place to reside...ONLY..on the condition that it be must be made for everyone to enjoy and for other researchers to use for other projects about jazz in the 1920's. So many times collections are donated to a University or Jazz Archive..and ends up in boxes in some basement which no one is able to have access to. This will not happen with the life's work and research of Phil Evans as well as my own years put into this project.
The main problem is now the cost of putting this all together. After many years as a jazz cornet player myself..I now have the time to tackle this mountain of information and preserving it for future generations. But the cost is is huge. I am NOT trying to gain a personal fortune by cashing in on this project. Hell...if that were the case...imagine what 1000's of original letters from people such as Louis Armstrong, Bing Crosby, Jack Teagarden, Hoagy Carmichael, Paul Whiteman, Jean Goldkette, and countless others would bring if I wanted to piece them out on Ebay, or some other auction service? But NO! Never! This rare collection was left to me to care for because of trust, and because of a friendship that lasted over 20 years, with one of the most honorable men I have ever known, Philip R. Evans, of Bakersfield, CA.