If you love jazz, you’ll want to mark your calendar for the Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival in Iowa.
This year’s festival will take place July 24-27 at venues throughout the Davenport area, including LeClaire Park on the banks of the Mississippi River, the Col Ballroom, the Clarion Hotel and the Danceland Ballroom.
Davenport, Iowa’s own Leon "Bix" Beiderbecke was a legendary jazz cornetist, pianist and composer in the roaring ’20s. His music continues to astound listeners with the clarity of its tone, the musical imagination, and the complex piano compositions. He played with the great actss of the era — the Wolverines, Jean Goldkette and Paul Whiteman.
In addition to enjoying a variety of jazz music at the festival, Beiderbecke’s fans can visit some of the places where the International Jazz Hall of Famer played, his boyhood home, his church and his burial place in Oakdale Memorial Gardens. Narrated trolley rides to these sites are scheduled throughout the festival weekend.
Construction is slated to start in January 2009 on the new Bix Beiderbecke Hall, which will be located at the Putnam Museum and IMAX Theatre in Davenport. The proposed $1.382 million, 1,300-square-foot interactive space will be constructed in the Grand Lobby of the Putnam Museum and is being planned by the Bix Memorial Jazz Society. Officials plan to open the hall in time for the 2009 festival.
It will house both Putnam-owned Beiderbecke artifacts, Bix Society archives and rarely seen photographs and footage from collectors worldwide. Beiderbecke’s cornet and the Beiderbecke family piano will also be on display. Construction is slated to begin January 2009, with the Bix Hall opening in time for Bix Festival 2009.