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Bix Beiderbecke: A Cure for the “Davenport Blues”?

Bix Beiderbecke

It was 75 years ago this summer that Bix Beiderbecke, the bright-burning cornetist who created some of the greatest jazz records of the 1920s, blew his last chimelike notes and passed into legend at age 28. Though it has been discussed for decades, plans are finally taking shape in Beiderbecke’s hometown to establish a museum and archive devoted to Davenport, Iowa’s most famous son. The nonprofit organization that runs the jazz festival in his name, the Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Society (bixsociety.org), is behind the effort and hopes to announce the museum site at the 35th annual Bix festival, which takes place July 27-30.

“The idea is to ultimately establish something that’s on the order of the Louis Armstrong House and Archives in Queens,” says trumpeter Randy Sandke, an advisor to the project. “Even if somebody didn’t know anything about Bix they could come in and learn. For scholars who want to study him it would be a repository with everything related to him in one place.”

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