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Various Artists: Celebrating Bix!

The musical archeologists at Arbors must really dig what they dig. They released a 19-track re-creation of Beiderbecke classics called Celebrating Bix! The Bix Centennial All Stars Celebrate His 100th Birthday, well over 70 minutes of what happens when you imbue a labor of love with modern technology. Virtually every selection is highlighted by harmonized transcriptions of Bix’s freewheeling, forward-looking solos-including a number of takes that never made it beyond the studios during Bix’s tragically short recording career (1924-1930; he died at 28).

Most of the credit goes to Peter Ecklund, who arranged two thirds of the famous Bix solos and lead lines for three cornets (Randy Sandke, Randy Reinhart and Jon-Erik Kellso, with trombonist Dan Barrett occasionally doubling on cornet); Dan Levinson, who doubled on clarinet and C-melody sax, scored the other third. Ecklund, who eschews tuba, makes use of Vince Giordano’s bass saxophone to get a fat bottom sound on “Borneo” and “At the Jazz Band Ball.” Giordano gets another period bottom effect with a slap bass solo on “Lonely Melody.” Talk about period sounds: kudos to vocalists Barbara Rosene and James Langton for their historically correct, thin, near-falsetto singing.

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