2013-08-07 / Features

Sunnyside Remembers Jazz Legend "Bix" Beiderbecke

By Jason D. Antos

Jazz enthusiasts from around the country came to Sunnyside last week to enjoy the annual musical tribute to Leon Bismark "Bix" Beiderbecke, one of the early legends of Jazz, gathered at the arcade on 46th Street and Queens Boulevard to listen and dance to music both written and inspired by the artist.Photo Jason D. AntosJazz enthusiasts from around the country came to Sunnyside last week to enjoy the annual musical tribute to Leon Bismark "Bix" Beiderbecke, one of the early legends of Jazz, gathered at the arcade on 46th Street and Queens Boulevard to listen and dance to music both written and inspired by the artist.Photo Jason D. AntosJazz enthusiasts from around the country came to Sunnyside last week to enjoy the annual musical tribute to Leon Bismark "Bix" Beiderbecke, one of the early legends of Jazz.

Hundreds were gathered at the arcade at 46th Street A 1920s Jazz era tribute band played hits once performed by Beiderbecke.A 1920s Jazz era tribute band played hits once performed by Beiderbecke.and Queens Boulevard to listen and dance to music both written and inspired by Beiderbecke. Known as “The young man with a horn”, Beiderbecke was born on March 10, 1903 and was an American jazz cornet player, jazz pianist and composer. A native of Davenport, Iowa, Beiderbecke taught himself to play cornet largely by ear.

Bix first recorded with The Wolverines in 1924 and performed with them at the Cinderella Ballroom at 1600 Broadway in the heart of Times Square. After leaving the Wolverines Bix played with Frank Trumbauer in the Detroit-based Jean Goldkette Orchestra. Leaving Goldkette, he worked briefly in Adrian Rollini's band.

Beiderbecke died in his apartment, 1G, at 43-30 46th St. in Sunnyside on Thursday, August 6, 1931. Beiderbecke died in his apartment, 1G, at 43-30 46th St. in Sunnyside on Thursday, August 6, 1931. Beiderbecke died in his apartment, 1G, at 43-30 46th St. in Sunnyside on Thursday, August 6, 1931. The week had been quite hot, making sleep difficult, and late into the evenings, Beiderbecke had played piano, both to the annoyance and to the delight of his neighbors. On the evening of August 6, at about 9.30 pm, his rental agent, George Kraslow, heard noises coming from across the hallway.

"His hysterical shouts brought me to his apartment on the run," Kraslow said in a 1959 interview.

"He pulled me in and pointed to the bed. His whole body was trembling violently. He was A plaque in honor of Beiderbeck is displayed on the facade of his apartment building where he died at the age of 28.A plaque in honor of Beiderbeck is displayed on the facade of his apartment building where he died at the age of 28. screaming there were two Mexicans hiding under his bed with long daggers. To humor him, I looked under the bed and when I rose to assure him there was no one hiding there, he staggered and fell, a dead weight, in my arms. I ran across the hall and called in a woman doctor, Dr. Haberski, to examine him. She pronounced him dead."

Historians have disagreed over the identity of the doctor who pronounced Beiderbecke dead. The official cause of death, meanwhile, was lobar pneumonia, with scholars continuing to debate the extent to which his alcoholism was also a factor. Beiderbecke's mother and brother took the train to New York and brought his body home to Davenport. He was buried there on August 11 in the family plot at Oakdale Cemetery.

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