Nomination of Bix Beiderbecke for a Commemorative Stamp
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"Bix Beiderbecke was one of the most significant figures in the history of American music. Although primarily a cornetist, he also was an accomplished pianist. Noted for his purity of tone and inventive solos, he used modern harmonic structures in a departure from the traditional New Orleans jazz styles. Bix influenced countless jazz musicians in his short life and his recordings still stand as classics today.”
Leon Bix Beiderbecke (March 10, 1903 – August 6, 1931) was an American jazz cornetist, jazz pianist, and composer.
Bix Beiderbecke was one of the most influential jazz soloists of the 1920s. His turns on "Singin' the Blues" and "I'm Coming, Virginia" (both 1927), in particular, demonstrated an unusual purity of tone and a gift for improvisation. With these two recordings, especially, he helped to invent the jazz ballad style and hinted at what, in the 1950s, would become cool jazz. "In a Mist" (1927), one of a handful of his piano compositions and one of only two he recorded, mixed classical (Impressionist) influences with jazz syncopation.
A native of Davenport, Iowa, Beiderbecke taught himself to play cornet largely by ear, leading him to adopt a non-standard fingering some critics have connected to his original sound. He first recorded with Midwestern jazz ensembles, The Wolverines in 1924, after which he played briefly for the Detroit-based Jean Goldkette Orchestra before joining Frankie "Tram" Trumbauer for an extended gig at the Arcadia Ballroom in St. Louis. Beiderbecke and Trumbauer joined Goldkette in 1926. The band toured widely and famously played a set opposite Fletcher Henderson at the Roseland Ballroom in New York City in October 1926. He made his greatest recordings in 1927 (see above). In September 1927, the Goldkette orchestra, after completing another engagement in New York's Roseland Ballroom, disbanded. Shortly after, Trumbauer and Beiderbecke joined the best-known and most prestigious dance orchestra in the country: the New-York-based Paul Whiteman Orchestra.
Beiderbecke's most influential recordings date from his time with Goldkette and Whiteman, although they were generally recorded under his own name or Trumbauer's. The Whiteman period also marked a precipitous decline in Beiderbecke's health, brought on by the demand of the bandleader's relentless touring and recording schedule in combination with Beiderbecke's persistent alcoholism. A few stints in rehabilitation centers, as well as the support of Whiteman and the Beiderbecke family in Davenport, did not check Beiderbecke's decline in health. He left the Whiteman band in 1929 and two years later, he died in his Queens apartment at the age of 28 of lobar pneumonia.
Sources: Wikipedia, Albert Haim, Frank Youngwerth
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