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.
Since 1972, the Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival has been held every July to honor this unassuming young genius whose career was cut short by his death in 1931 at age 28. Sponsored by the non-profit Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Society, and operated by volunteers, the Festival attracts the cream of Dixieland, swing and other
jazz-style bands from all over the globe.
The 2008 bands include:
• Davy Jones and His Dixieland All Stars from Florida
• High Sierra Jazz Band from California
• Jean Kittrell & the St. Louis Rivermen from Missouri
• New Wolverine Jazz Orchestra from Australia
• Randy Sandke's New York All Stars from New York
• Spats Langham & His Rhythm Boys from the United Kingdom
• Statesmen of Jazz with Warren Vache, leader, from New York
• Wally's Warehouse Waifs from Michigan
• West End Jazz Band from Illinois
• The Bix Youth Band, a group of teenagers selected by teach recommendations and scholarship from Quad Cities-area middle and high school.
For more information or to order tickets, contact the Bix Society at 563-324-7170 or visit the Bix Society Web site at http://www.bixsociety.org.
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.