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Albert Heath: Kwanza

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A decade before the Marsalises triggered a bebop revival, seminal producer Don Schlitten was giving beboppers a recording outlet with Xanadu Records. A veteran jazz record producer who’d worked for RCA, Prestige and Muse, among many other labels, Schlitten founded Xanadu in 1975 and operated it with his wife Nina. (The label ceased issuing new recordings in 1990, though it was revived for a brief spell in 2009.) It quickly became a haven for the stars of the bebop era-Al Cohn and Barry Harris were prolific-to keep that music alive in an era when fusion, the avant-garde and Afrocentrism were jazz’s dominant aesthetics.

It was Schlitten who allowed a substantial number of artists to keep their head above water long enough to enjoy the 1980s jazz renaissance. Elemental Music’s Zev Feldman and Jordi Soley have this year made arrangements to celebrate Schlitten’s accomplishments with the release of the Xanadu Remaster Edition series: 25 of the label’s most essential releases, remastered and repackaged with new liner notes by English jazz writer Mark Gardner.

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