AT THE JAZZ CENTRE UK
We are very excited to be able to represent the American cornettist, pianist and composer Leon Bismark "Bix" Beiderbecke within our heritage collection.
December Saturday 16th 2017, something new caught the eye—or rather something very old and very rickety. An ancient wooden chair with a splint screwed to one ancient leg. On closer inspection this chair proved to be one of the Jazz Centre’s most precious acquisitions! A brass plaque attached to the chair frame revealed all, explaining that none other than the legendary cornetist Leon ‘Bix’ Beiderbecke had sat on the chair whilst playing with the Jean Goldkette Orchestra in Wall Lake, Michigan in 1927.
After the concert in Wall Lake, the chair was taken home by the 10-year-old Billy Butterfield, himself destined to be one of the USA’s great jazz trumpeters in later life. It remained in his home, and later his office for decades.
Then in 1978 British trumpeter Alan Littlejohn (a close friend of Butterfield) visited his home and expressed his admiration of the chair. Shortly afterwards it was sent to him by his mentor as a Christmas present, wrapped only in newspaper and tied with string. Following Littlejohn’s death in 1995 the Bix-chair began its travels around the UK. First to the National Jazz Archive and later to the Mike Durham Classic Jazz Parties in Newcastle. On 13th December 2017, the chair was presented to the Jazz Centre UK by pianist-bandleader Keith Nichols and has now found its final resting place as a star exhibit alongside those of Louis Armstrong, Sir John Dankworth, Dame Cleo Laine and Humphrey Lyttelton.