Aug. 5, 2011 By Christian Murray
Bix Beiderbecke, born in 1903, was a musical prodigy who played the piano by ear as a toddler and after his death at 28, gradually became one of the most influential jazz soloists of all time. Beiderbecke’s short life was tumultuous. He died hallucinating with pneumonia in his apartment at 43-60 46th Street #1G, in Sunnyside.
A plaque marks the building today, across the street from the apartment of Paul Maringelli, who founded and runs the Annual Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Concert in Sunnyside, now in its 11th year. Sunnyside Shines/BID, now a major sponsor, commissioned this 3-min. video of 2010 event.
Maringelli, jazz aficionado, commercial artist and drummer, says he was watching the Ken Burns documentary, “Jazz,” when he learned of the Bix/Sunnyside connection.
His follow-up research stunned him, he says, when he located Chris Beiderbecke, a grandnephew of the legend and learned that Bix died right across the street from Paul’s own apartment. Father Joseph Jerome of the neighboring All Saint Church, Community Board 2, the Kiwanis Club of Sunnyside and Alice Cardona of Assemblywoman’s Cathy Nolan’s office all assisted Maringelli in bringing the concerts to fruition.
This year’s multi-part celebration will be Saturday at 3-9pm on August 6 under the Sunnyside Arch at 46th Street and Queens Boulevard, adjacent to the MTA 46th/Bliss station. The Astoria Historical Society will present a round table discussion on Bix, and also performing will be the South Shore Syncopators, the Brandee Younger Band, the Shenton-Shields Band, and the Sunnyside Drum Corps.
Additional sponsors are Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce, the Kiwanis Club of Sunnyside, Queens Council on the Arts, and Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer.