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BEIDERBECKE, Bix (1903-31)

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BEIDERBECKE, Bix (1903-31), orig. Leon Bismarck. American jazz cornetist, pianist, and composer, born March 10, 1903, in Davenport, Iowa. One of the most original and accomplished of jazz musicians, he achieved popularity only after his death, through the wide circulation of his recordings. Known for his sweet tone and subtle phrasing, Beiderbecke pioneered in the use of impressionistic harmonies in jazz and was the earliest white jazz musician of major import. He first played professionally with the Wolverines, an influential Chicago band. Later he worked with Charlie Straight (1891-1940) and occasionally Louis Armstrong and King Oliver in Chicago, and in Saint Louis with Frank Trumbauer (1900-56) and Jean Goldkette (1899-1962). From 1928 until his death from alcoholism and pneumonia, Aug. 6, 1931, in New York City, he was a featured player with the Paul Whiteman band.

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