The Re-Discovered Louis & Bix
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As a document of obscure, rare, and sometimes never recorded instrumental music (vocals on this date were omitted) of Louis Armstrong & Bix Beiderbecke, Sandke, his New York All Star bands of various sized personnel, and producer George Avakian, have gone to great pains to excavate these 15 gems. The historical aspect alone elevates the cachet of this marvelously musical, Dixieland-to-swing traditional jazz CD. Most of the cuts are large ensembles with the core musicians consisting of pianist Dick Hyman, tuba player David Ostwald, guitarist/banjoist James Chirillo or Howard Alden, bassists Peter Washington or Greg Cohen, drummer Joe Ascione, saxophonists/clarinetists Kenny Davern, Ken Peplowski, Chuck Wilson, and Scott Robinson, trombonists Wycliffe Gordon or Dan Barrett, and trumpeters Sandke, Jon-Erik Kellso, and Nicholas Payton. Avakian knows a ton of historical background which is written in his liners, and also includes reproductions of some of the charts.
The eight tunes from Satchmo range from the extraordinarily easy swinger "Beyond The Shadow Of A Doubt," the nine piece big band styled "The Jive Don't Come From Kokomo," "Tuxedo Junction" type "Mr. Jackson From Jacksonville," and two beat medley "Got What It Takes/Need Your Kind Of Lovin'" with tail draggin' mid-section and warm Wycliffe Gordon solo. Hyman's honky tonk stylings with Chirillo's banjo informs "Drop That Sack" and Payton solos expertly in this multi-generational line-up. Precious oompah tuba and Dixieland counterpoint electrify "Papa, What Are You Trying to Do to Me, I've Been Doing It For Years," evoking a modern octet re-creation of the King Oliver sound, while the old timey midtempo two beat "When You Leave Me Alone to Pine" sports a joyous solo from Kellso. Davern solos on these three tunes and continues to demonstrate why he is the premier clarinetist of his, or any, generation. A trumpet-piano duet from the leader and Hyman on "Weather Bird" generates plenty of energy. Of the Bix bits, a different nonet with Peplowski, Robinson, Barrett, Wilson and Alden where they cook in similar fashion to "There'll Be Some Changes Made" on the hot jazz epic "Stampede" with three solos by the leader, burning bass sax from Robinson, or Peplowski's lilting clarinet on Jean Goldkette's "Lily." More effortlessly swung is the cornet (Sandke) and clarinet (Peplowski) led, celeste flavored "Cloudy," steadily streamed Goldkette number "Play It Red," and Hyman-powered, cool to lukewarm, second to third gear shifted "No One Knows What It's All About." It's all Hyman on the wonderful intro to "Betcha I Getcha," and a sweet, septet take of the "I Got Plenty O'Nothin'" tinged "Did You Mean It?" goes in and out of stripped horn charts and smaller combos within the ensemble confines.
To find this music, much less be able to play it as well as these early period pros do, can only lead to what is an extraordinary recording that every fan of the traditional idiom of jazz simply must have. Highly recommended. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi
Born: 1949 in Chicago, IL
Years Active: '20s, '40s, '90s
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