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Benny Goodman Orchestra Featuring Anita o’Day: Big Bands Live

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This is the stuff collectors dream of. The numbers induce salivating: a literal trove of never-before-released live jazz recordings dating back to 1947, some 3,000 hours of music. In all, there are 1,600 well-preserved, German-made audio recordings and 350 TV broadcasts by more than 400 different artists and groups. All of this material has been sitting in the vaults of Südwestrundfunk (Southwest Broadcasting) for decades. Now it’s been unearthed and the remastering process has begun, with high-quality quarterly releases planned on DVD as well as CD, vinyl and digital. Jazzhaus, a new label distributed in the U.S. by Naxos of America, expects to deliver a wide cross-section of both American and international vintage jazz as it was performed over the air for German audiences during the music’s most fertile period.

The barrage has gotten off to a most promising start. The three initial releases, the Benny Goodman issued under the banner of Big Bands Live and the Gerry Mulligan and Cannonball Adderley sets falling into the more general Legends Live camp, each boast clean, enhanced fidelity that, while naturally not comparable to today’s audio, is crisp and robust. Goodman’s set, taped at Stadthalle on Oct. 15, 1959, in the southwestern city of Freiburg, showcases a scaled-down but spirited 10-piece orchestra featuring such A-listers as Red Norvo on vibes, Russ Freeman playing piano, Flip Philllips on tenor sax and Jack Sheldon on trumpet.

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