Born on March 10th, 1903 in Davenport Iowa, Leon Bismark (Bix) Beiderbecke was one of the earliest and most influential jazz soloists of the 1920's. Along with fellow trumpet player Louis Armstrong, Bix was known not just for having a beautiful, pure tone and fluid improvisational style, but he and Armstrong were also actively recording their music during the same period. Beiderbecke began his musical path first studying piano at a young age, and ultimate picking up the cornet at the age of 13. His early exposure to jazz consisted of phonograph records his brother brought back from the military, and listening to the musicians performing on the riverboats when docked in Davenport. Throughout the 1920's, Bix performed with a number of groups including the Wolverine Orchestra and the Paul Whiteman Orchestra. As a contrast to fellow trumpet virtuoso Louis Armstrong, Beiderbecke rarely ventured into the upper ranges of the cornet, rather concentrating on creating melodic improvisations that were harmonically based. A September 1930 recording session with Hoagy Carmichael would find Bix performing on the original recording of "Georgia On My Mind" which would go on to achieve popular success.
Struggling throughout his life with alcoholism which historians note as a contributing factor to his death, Bix Beiderbecke passed away in August of 1931 in Queens New York. Though relatively short in time, the influence and style of Bix Beiderbecke can still be traced to musicians today, leaving his legacy intact for generations of musicians.