From the Archives: The Short, Sad and Brilliant Life of Bix Beiderbecke

Editor’s Note: From time to time, The Daily Music Break re-posts older content. Alex Welsh and Fred Hunt’s version of Davenport Blues is haunting, especially in the context of Davenport native Bix Beiderbecke’s sad story. 

Leon Bismark Bix Beiderbecke died of alcoholism in 1931 at age 28 in Sunnyside, Queens. He was too young and too far from his Davenport, Iowa, birthplace. Bix is lost in the mists of time, but his influence on jazz is great and continues to this day.

Above is a beautiful version of Davenport Blues, with Alex Welsh on cornet and Fred Hunt on piano. Beiderbecke’s style is far more delicate than Louis Armstrong’s, who was his contemporary. Armstrong was capable of great subtlety, but his main style was as straight-ahead as a locomotive. Beiderbecke–especially as interpreted by Welsh–is quiet and peaceful.

Here are I’m Coming Virginia, Riverboat Shuffle and Till My Daddy Comes Home

One of the bios says that Beiderbecke was secluded in Queens working on compositions for piano when he died. Those pieces include In the Dark (played by Dick Hyman), Candlelights (Bernd Lhotzky) and Flashes (Lhotzky).