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Private Astronomy: A Vision of the Music of Bix Beiderbecke

Geoff MuldaurAudio CD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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MP3 Music, 13 Songs, 2003 --  
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 30, 2003)
  • Original Release Date: 2003
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Edge Music / Deutsche Grammophone
  • ASIN: B0000C3I2R
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #173,471 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Take Your Tomorrow (And Give Me Today) - Vocal by Geoff Muldaur and the Harmony Boys
2. In The Dark - The Futuristic Chamber Group
3. There Ain't No Sweet Man That's Worth the Salt of My Tears - Vocal by Martha Wainwright
4. In A Mist - The Futuristic Chamber Group
5. Futuristic Rhythm - Vocal by Geoff Muldaur and the Harmony Boys
6. Davenport Blues - The Futuristic Chamber Group
7. Singin' the Blues - Vocal by Martha Wainwright
8. Candlelights - The Futuristic Chamber Group
9. Bless You Sister - Vocal by Loudon Wainwright III and the Harmony Girls
10. Flashes - The Futuristic Chamber Group
11. At the End of the Road - Vocal by Geoff Muldaur
12. In A Mist (chorale) - The Futuristic Chamber Group
13. Clouds - Vocal by Geoff Muldaur

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
44 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Boola Boola October 11, 2003
Format:Audio CD
I was afraid that I was going to hate this CD. After all, those of us who love (or even know about) Bix's "Modern Suite" have had precious little to listen to, apart from Ralph Sutton's evocative piano solos (which, so far as I know, haven't made their way yet to CD) and Bunny Berigan's 1938 ensemble arrangements for "In a Mist," "Flashes," and "Candlelights" (plus "Davenport Blues"). My worry was that a bunch of folkies (Geoff Muldaur, Loudon Wainwright III, Martha Wainwright, et. al.) would turn this project into something precious or surround the "Suite" with hokum nonsense. Well, I was dead wrong. Muldaur's chamber arrangements of the instrumental pieces are both respectful of the originals and beautifully evocative in their own right. And the other "period" material, with spirited playing by some top-flight jazz musicians, is neither gimmickry nor filler. The biggest surprise was how well Muldaur's extraordinary vocals complement this material: Who needs Bing when you've got Geoff to sing "Waiting at the End of the Road"? And the same can be said for Martha Wainwright's wonderfully saucy rendering of "There Ain't No Sweet Man That's Worth the Salt of My Tears." This is a terrific project, fully realized. It's already in heavy rotation on my CD player.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful reimagining of some great old music January 30, 2005
Format:Audio CD
Don't pay any attention to the crabbypants, crusty jazz purists who are poo-poohing this disc. They're simply being humorless and unimaginative, which pretty much puts them in 180-degree opposition to this lovely little record. I liked this a lot. It was very sweet, very creative and very listenable, and if it (gasp!!!) doesn't sound exactly like Bix Beiderbecke did, well golly! Why not go buy a Beiderbecke album as well, and quit carping about how this "doesn't live up to" the man, the myth and the legend? There's really no reason we can't enjoy BOTH the original music and this warm, intelligent tribute to Beiderbeck's restless genius. They each have a lot to offer. I, for one, look forward to listening to this record for years to come.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars oh, my GOSH! May 3, 2005
Format:Audio CD
In the town where I grew up, there was a summer when someone painted (with a brush, no spray paint at that time) the words "Bix Lives" virtually everywhere. I asked everyone I could think of if they knew who this "Bix" was ... finally, it was our Postmaster (a pretty fair ragtime piano player) who told me that the "Bix" painted everywhere referred to a jazz cornetist named Bix Biederbeck. I never heard anymore about that, and my public-school music teachers weren't really very forthcoming.

I heard about this disc on Public Radio. I had to order it from Amazon because my local music store was at something of a loss when it came to Geoff Muldaur and Mr Biederbeck. What drew me mostly were some remarks that Bix had drawn some of his later influences from composers like Maurice Ravel and Claude DeBussy. I really wanted to hear this!

I have finally found MY FAVORITE cd ... this has handily surpassed every other favorite I've EVER had. It's simply beautiful ... sometimes wistful, occasionally melancholy, and always a delight.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Historic Recording December 18, 2003
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
As a long-time listener and fan of Bix Beiderbecke, my interest was piqued by all the rave reviews I started seeing and hearing about "Private Astronomy"...New York Times, Wall Street Journal, All Things Considered, the Bix website and on and on. So, I finally got off my duff and ordered a copy. This single act was the best thing I've done for myself in the last decade. Geoff Muldaur has created a masterpiece! The chamber arrangements of Bix's piano pieces are exquisite. In all my years (and there are too many of them) I have not heard anything like's as if Bix had escaped his early death, grown up and chosen to arrange the pieces in just this way. Goodness, I can see him smiling in heaven! The songs with big band arrangements and Wainwright and Muldaur vocals capture the spirit of the era in just the right way. Retro arrangements they are not. They are as fresh as a if Muldaur were transported from the late twenties to give us the real thing in his own way. I highly recommend this album. For the historic importance of the chamber arrangements alone, "Private Astronomy" rates 5 stars!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely fantastic musicianship December 15, 2005
Format:Audio CD
Wow, what a CD. The chords, the compositions are beautiful. The musicians are cream of the crop, and their intonation unbelievable. You'll feel like you're sitting in on the band, and a fantastic band to boot, when you listen to this CD. You'll feel as though you just left a live jazz club after this one.

The "Clouds" piece is particularly poignant, and the group plays it perfectly.

Can't say enough about how surprised I was in getting this CD. Didn't know what to expect, but certainly didn't expect such a fabulous and rich sound. If you like good jazz from a group that's in tune, exhibits great musicianship, has a inate sense of rhythm , and just seems to have fun on this CD, this one's for you.

Mr. Muldaur, more please !
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very, very pleasant listening December 9, 2003
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
As soon as I heard about this CD, I knew I had to have it. Still, I was a little afraid when ordering it that it wouldn't live up to my expectations. All my fears were immediately erased when the disc arrived and I eagerly opened it and put it in the CD player. What sound! Not only is the disc marvelously recorded technically speakking, but the content is equally spectacular. Geoff Muldaur has given new life to these old pieces, featuring brand new arrangments that accurately reflect the 1920s/1930s style. The new arrangements provide a fresh look at these pieces, instead of another note-for-note recreation of a record that has already been made. Of particular interst to me are his Futuristic Ensemble recordings of Bix's solo piano compositions: "In A Mist," "Candlelights," "Flashes," and "In The Dark." Here, these have been skillfully adapted for wind ensemble and the result is breathtaking. There will never be another Bix, and Muldaur recognizes that. He has captured the essence of Bix, but transformed it into something all his own. The disc is on the short side at slightly over 40 minutes, but it's one I find myself listening to over and over again. Well worth it!
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