Aug. 2, 2016 By Hannah Wulkan
Leon “Bix” Beiderbecke’s legacy as a groundbreaking jazz musician will be celebrated for the 16th year in a row on Saturday at the annual Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Concert.
Exactly 85 years after Beiderbecke died, the Sunnyside Wolverines, a local jazz group, will honor his memory by performing his music just a half block from the 46th Street apartment building where he used to live.
This year, for the first time, the concert will be held at Bliss Plaza, located directly under the 7 train at the 46th Street station. The performance will kick off at 6pm.
The new location is likely to generate greater community interest, according to organizers.
“We hope it draws both people who appreciate jazz and plan to come, as well as people stepping off train who just stop by to listen,” said Sunnyside Shines Director Rachel Thieme.
The concert will happen rain or shine, thanks to the train tracks covering the plaza. Thieme said that having the concert right by the train entrance and in the middle of everything is “a fun way to present entertainment to the community.”
Beiderbecke was one of the most influential jazz musicians of the 1920s, helping to invent the jazz ballad style. He grew up in Davenport, Iowa before moving to 43-30 46th Street. He struggled with alcoholism for much of his life, and died on August 6, 1931 in his Sunnyside apartment at the age of 28.
Sunnyside resident and musician Paul Maringelli began the annual concert in 2001 when he learned of Beiderbecke’s roots in the neighborhood. The Sunnyside Wolverines team up each year to remember Beiderbecke’s influence and play his music, with Maringelli on drums.
Maringelli later partnered on the concert with Sunnyside Shines in 2010, an organization that aims to promote and improve the business district of Sunnyside.