Synopsis by Eleanor Mannikka
"Bix" Beiderbecke (1903-1931) was one of the best (and self-taught) cornetists in U.S. jazz history, playing at a time when Louis Armstrong was acclaimed for his jazz renderings, yet in no way similar to Armstrong in sound and style. Bix had hardcore conservative parents whose stance against jazz was unbending -- and who never appreciated Bix's attainments. The story of his successes and tragedies is told through interviews (including some with his contemporaries), historical footage, still photos, images of Edward Hopper's paintings (that emphasize Bix's period and Midwestern origins), and the music itself. Although Bix was playing the piano at the age of three, he later taught himself the coronet and made his fame on that instrument. At first, he did not read music but when he lost one job due to that inability, he took time out to learn. Some of his greatest solos include "Way Down Yonder in New Orleans" and "Singing the Blues." Already addicted to alcohol in his early 20s -- partly at the influence of his so-called "friends," his health broke down at the age of 27, and although he tried to rehabilitate himself, he died of alcohol abuse one year later. Dorothy Baker's book and the later 1950s movie of the same title -- Young Man with a Horn -- was inspired by the life and legend of Bix Beiderbecke.