By Larry Blumenfeld
Updated June 20, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT

The brief and brilliant career of cornetist Bix Beiderbecke — who drank himself to death at 28, in 1931 –is jazz legend. Here, Turner fills in the tale with mostly fictional details that bear not just the grip of good drama but the rhythm and spirit of the ”hot jazz” Beiderbecke played. Drawn in by the memories of a former road manager as he sits on Bix’s grave, we’re transported to Depression-era Chicago run by nicknamed gangsters: ”With Capone hiding out, Greasy Thumb holds the fort at the Metropole while Decent Dever thunders from the mayor’s office…” Then on to Hollywood, in tumult over ”talkies.” Marvelous cameos by Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Maurice Ravel dot a story that darts from scene to scene with the combustible energy of the ’20s.