Great Pacific Jazz Orchestra

Music of Louis Armstrong

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Bob Ringwald's septet of classic jazz players turn to the early repertoire of Louis Armstrong for an entire LP, painstakingly trying to evoke the feeling of the Hot Five and Seven -- and at times, the later All-Stars. The star of the record is Zeke Zarchy, then 70, a veteran of many of the major big bands of a decade or two later than the music heard here. His task is both a

desirable and a daunting one -- taking on the mantle of Pops on his own turf -- and he acquits himself well, playing out with the famous Satch vibrato and almost a full quota of his legendary ebullience. He is very convincing at times, even on the signature fanfare of "West End Blues." Ringwald is on hand for firm support on banjo, though his vocals are strictly on the

straw-hat-and-striped-jacket level. Jim Turner, who co-produced the record with Ringwald, is a fluent, able pianist rooted in classic pre-bop styles, confidently pulling off the contrapuntal duet with Zarchy on "Weather Bird." Longtime Lawrence Welk soloist Bob Havens is on trombone, Don Nelson -- the brother of Ozzie Nelson -- punches out the notes on soprano sax a la Bechet, Jack Wadsworth handles the bassline on bass sax, and Ray Templin is on drums. You wouldn't give up your originals (neither would they) for these re-creations -- unless completely seduced by the clear, detailed, hi-fi sonics -- but it's certainly worth a spin or two.