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Jazz Legend Bix Beiderbecke Remembered in Sunnyside


Bix Beiderbecke

In memory of the anniversary of the death of jazz legend Bix Beiderbecke, "the Bix Beiderbecke Sunnyside Memorial Committee" held a special plaque unveiling ceremony on Saturday Aug. 9th. Paul Maringelli, a jazz enthusiast who lives in Sunnyside, learned of Beiderbecke's connection to the neighborhood, some years ago, and organized the event for the purpose of remembering Bix in the neighborhood Bix chose to live.

Beiderbecke died at the young age of 28 on August 6, 1931, at 9:30 p.m. in his apartment at 43-30 46th Street in Sunnyside, Queens. The building he lived and died in is located at the edge of the All Saints Churchyard, where the ceremony and evening candlelight vigil was held.

Biographies:

Bix Beiderbecke

Neighborhoods:

Sunnyside

Mr. Maringelli received strong support from Bix's grandnephew, Chris Beiderbecke, who lives in Illinois. "Both of us felt this was the perfect year to do this," said Mr Maringelli, "as 2003 is the hundredth anniversary of the birth of jazz pioneer Bix Beiderbecke."

The Kiwanis Club of Sunnyside, The Sunnyside Foundation for Community Planning and Preservation, and The Greater Astoria Historical Society contributed funding for the commemorative plaque. Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan's office made a donation to pay the musicians. The staff of All Saints Church donated their yard for the night and helped with organizing scheduling.


Front row left to right: Martin McQuade,
Paul Maringelli, Councilman Gioia

Councilman Eric Gioia, was the guest of honor and opened the night's ceremonies. Included in the evening's entertainment was speaker Martin McQuade from the Crosby Internet Museum, who played samples of, and gave information on, the recordings Bix made with Bing and discussed they're close friendship. Also on hand was Albert Haim, the renowned Bix Beiderbecke archivist, who spoke and answered questions about Beiderbecke's life and music. The audience was also treated to a performance by a five-piece jazz band, organized by saxophonist Ray McGill especially for the night's event.

Souvenir T-shirts, designed and donated by MG Publicatidad, located in Sunnyside, were purchased by many of the Beiderbecke fans that attended. The night wound to a close as fans walked slowly to the front of 43-30 and lit candles and said silent prayers as Bix's recording of "I'll Be A Friend With Pleasure" played through CD speakers.

For further information contact Paul Maringelli at pmaringell@aol.com

For further information on the historic plaque program contact the Greater Astoria Historical Society at 718-278-0700 or info@astorialic.org

Message from Christopher Bix Beiderbecke, Bix's Great-nephew.


I'd like you to know that as this is read, I am in Moline, IL, just across the Mississippi river from Bix's hometown of Davenport, IA. I'm filled with equal parts gratitude and deep regret. Gratitude that wonderful people that I've never met have devoted the large amounts of time, effort, and determination that are required to make this event a reality, and deep regret that I am unable to attend myself and share in this remembrance and honor.

On behalf of my family, I'd like to express my gratitude to the many people who have brought this from the idea of one man to the event that brings you all together today.


Candlelight vigil in front of Bix's apartment building

When Paul Maringelli discovered that Bix's final residence was within a stone's throw of his own home, he single-handedly set out to organize an appropriate recognition in honor of a true musical genius of our age whose too short life came to a tragic end so near to him.

I am deeply honored by his effort, as well as the others who contributed to making this wonderful tribute possible. This includes Father Joseph Jerome & All Saints Church for his enthusiasm and help from the very beginning, as well as Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan, Councilman Eric Gioia, Murray Fox, and the Kiwanis Club of Sunnyside. My heartfelt thanks to these people as well as all the others who have contributed. Your work, effort, and belief that this should happen is greatly appreciated.

Only two weeks ago, the 4 day Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival was held for the 32nd consecutive year in Davenport, Iowa. This year's fest drew tens of thousands of people from literally around the globe. I certainly hope that this gathering in Sunnyside will become an annual event as well, not only because it is fitting, but for the purely selfish reason that I very much hope to have the chance to attend in the future.

Again, my sincere thanks and appreciation to all who have contributed to honoring Bix, the man, as well as his music. In the words of Louis Armstrong, "Ain't none of them played like him yet."


Chris Beiderbecke


The Memorial Plaque

Plaque Text

IN MEMORY OF
LEON "BIX" BEIDERBECKE
PIONEER JAZZ CORNETIST, PIANIST & COMPOSER,
THE ORIGINAL YOUNG MAN WITH A HORN.

BORN - MARCH 10TH, 1903
DAVENPORT, IOWA

DIED - AUGUST 6TH, 1931
43-30 46TH STREET, SUNNYSIDE, NEW YORK.

PAUL MARINGELLI & THE "BIX" BEIDERBECKE MEMORIAL COMMITTEE
KIWANIS CLUB OF SUNNYSIDE
SUNNYSIDE FOUNDATION FOR COMMUNITY PLANNING AND PRESERVATION

GREATER ASTORIA HISTORICAL SOCIETY HISTORICAL PLAQUE
AUGUST 6, 2003

Bix Memorial Photos by John Millus of the Sunnyside Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Committee

 

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