Tom Pletcher, the leading interpretter of Bix Beiderbecke of his generation died in August at 83.
Tom Pletcher’s ties to jazz went back two generations. His grandfather, Thomas Pletcher published piano rolls on the QRS label, recording James P. Johnson and Fats Waller. His father Stew Pletcher played with Red Norvo and Jack Teagarden among others. Tom caught the Bix bug early, inspired by his father’s Frankie Trumbauer 78s as a teen in the 1950s.
He became in time the leading modern interpreter of Bix Beiderbecke. He founded the Sons of Bix band in 1973 and was involved in the establishment of The Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Society. Later ventures included the Bix Centennial Band formed to commemorate the centennial of Bix’s birth in 2003.
Along the way, he played and recorded with just about everyone from his and later generations, and appeared in projects on numerous traditional jazz labels. He didn’t stick to Bix’s recorded repertoire, in one 2004 project he imagined with Dick Hyman what would happen “If Bix Played Gershwin”. In 1990 he recorded in the Bix role for the soundtrack of the Italian film Bix: An Interpretation of a Legend.