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Born This Day
Louis Armstrong and Steve Andrews.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Sunday @ Bix Fest, Racine, Wisconsin - March 10

(Review by Russell)

Sunday at this thirtieth edition of Bix Fest coincided with Bix Beiderbecke's birth date - March 10 (1903). Born in Davenport, Iowa, the legendary cornetist could never have imagined that 116 years after his death there would be more than one festival celebrating his contribution to jazz including Bix Fest here in Racine, Wisconsin some 200 miles northeast of his birthplace. To mark Bix's birth date there would be cake for all Bixians.  

The line-up on the final day was, in effect, a reprise of Saturday evening's concert. Andy Schumm returned with his Cellar BoysReginald Robinson and John Reed-Torres 
enthralled the capacity audience with yet more spellbinding ragtime piano, Milwaukee's Sweet Sheiks made the short trip down the freeway a second time and the Shake 'Em Up gals were around to close the party. 

The Cellar Boys' Paul Asaro introduced Andy Schumm's arrangement of a Gershwin number - Yankee Doodle Blues - saying it was one he hadn't come across.  The band had rehearsed it and, with the music in front of him, pianist Asaro and his fellow Chicagoans made a grand job of it. Schumm's sensational hot tenor playing throughout the weekend will be a lasting memory of the band's performance. If you happen to be in Chicago on a Sunday get along to the Honky Tonk BBQ as the Cellar Boys maintain a weekly residency at the joint. Alternatively, Schumm will be on Tyneside in November at the Classic Jazz Party. Go hear him!

To hear one world class exponent of ragtime piano is a treat, to hear two of them together on the same platform was the rarest of treats. Reginald Robinson and John Reed-Torres are virtuoso performers on a mission to not only take the music to the widest possible audience but to write new rags, some of them commissioned pieces, thus adding to the form's existing, extensive library of familar and not so familiar tunes. In addition to their undoubted brilliance, Messrs Robinson and Reed-Torres engaged with the Bix Fest audience in an easy-going manner which made them a pleasure to listen to. 

Closing Bix Fest 2019 was the Shake 'Em Up Jazz Band. The all-female six-piece band from New Orleans is a hit wherever it goes and this Racine audience loved 'em - that's Marla, Chloe, Haruka, Molly, Julie and Defne. A trumpet-clarinet-trombone frontline with 'real deal' vocals supported by a superb rhythm section of guitar, bass and washboard, the Shake 'Em Ups are 24-carat festival headliner quality. Chloe Feoranzo's vocals on Empty Bed Blues will live long in the memory. Bix Fest 2019 will also be a treasured, life-long memory. 
Russell.

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