Here's a new album by the Bix Centennial All Stars honoring the legacy of the renowned cornetist Bix Beiderbecke. Sort of. Actually, most of the music on Celebrating Bix! was recorded and released in March 2003, the actual centenary of Beiderbecke's birth in Davenport, Iowa. This expanded twentieth anniversary edition includes a trio of songs not released at that time owing to limited space, and has been reissued on two CDs instead of one.
Having said that, it makes not a whit of difference if the music performed here is one hundred or one hundred-twenty years old, as it easily withstands the test of time. In other words, early-jazz enthusiasts who were unable to "celebrate Bix" the first time around are in for a delectable treat. One reason is that the songs themselves are consistently spirited and charming, faithfully exemplifying an era marked by freshness and change; another is that the Centennial All Stars are no less than that, and handily live up to the name.
Although Beiderbecke's career as a professional musician lasted scarcely half a dozen years (he died at age thirty-one), the cornet maestro performed and recorded a number of memorable themes that are still played and appreciated today, songs like "Davenport Blues," "Riverboat Shuffle," "I'm Coming Virginia," "China Boy," "Singin' the Blues," "Lonely Melody" and "'Way Down Yonder in New Orleans," all of which are included here. "China Boy" is one of three songs added to the reissue; the others are "Just an Hour of Love" and saxophonist Frankie Trumbauer's buoyantly swinging "Trumbology."
There are two vocals on Disc 1, both by Barbara Rosene, on "Proud (Of a Baby Like You)" and "I'm Coming Virginia." Rosene is heard again on Disc 2, on "Just an Hour of Love," while James Langton sings on "From Monday On" and "Deep Down South," the Manhattan Rhythm Kings (Marc Kessler, Brian Nalepka, Hal Shane) on "Borneo" and "San." The album's splendid booklet includes informative notes on the album and its music by Sandke and Levinson; on Beiderbecke's life by Chip Deffaa; and on marking his centennial by the original album's co-producersLevinson, Doug LaPasta and David White.
As Deffaa points out in his notes, Bix Beiderbecke considered himself a failure, and felt that he and his music would soon be forgotten. As it turns out, he was a far better musician than prophet. More than a century after his death, his music lives on, wonderfully reimagined and revitalized here by the Bix Centennial All Stars in this exemplary reissue.
At the Jazz Band Ball; Proud (Of a Baby Like You); Deep Harlem; Riverboat Shuffle;
Davenport Blues; The Jazz Me Blues; Blue River; I Need Some Pettin’; I’m Coming Virginia; Lonely
Melody; Clementine (from New Orleans); Trumbology; From Monday On; Singin’ the Blues
(Till My Daddy Comes Home); There’ll Come a Time (Wait and See); China Boy; Just an Hour of
Love; Borneo; Clarinet Marmalade; ‘Way Down Yonder in New Orleans; San; Deep Down South.
Jon-Erik Kellso, Randy Reinhart, Randy Sandke: cornet; Dan Barrett: trombone, cornet; Harvey
Tibbs: trombone; Dan Levinson: clarinet, alto, C-melody sax; Pete Martinez: clarinet, C-melody
Scott Robinson: clarinet, tenor, C-melody sax; Jack Stuckey: clarinet, alto sax; Mark Shane, Dick
Hyman (11): piano; Howard Alden, Matt Munisteri: guitar; Greg Cohen: bass; Vince Giordano:
bass sax; Joe Ascione: drums; James Langton, Barbara Rosene, the Manhattan Rhythm Kings
(Marc Kessler, Brian Nalepka, Hal Shane): vocals.
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