The GREAT 78 Project!

Digital. It’s great and it’s awful. This time, it’s great.

It’s the Great 78 Project. And it’s just what it sounds like. The Internet Archive (in San Francisco, California) is a partner in the quest to transfer 78rpm records for anyone to download for free. OK, my site is about vinyl, but at least these digital files start out that way. Continue reading

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Watch It! How Records Are (Were) Made!

MotherLike many of you, I’d heard about masters and mothers, even biscuits. But this video, produced by RCA in 1942, goes into great detail about the entire process, even the shipping of the records after they’ve pressed. I didn’t realize how involved the pressing of LPs really was. And you have to wonder how noxious the chemicals were to the workers, who clearly don’t know or care.

More wonderous is that the process works at all. Who could have come up with such a convoluted process to transfer a signal from a mic, to the final vinyl product? Must have taken much experimentation and error over the years.

OK, it’s a 19 minute vid, but if you’ve got the time, you won’t regret watching this, in standard def. Don’t be put off by the guy in the clown suit… Continue reading

Found! The Memoirs of Willie The Lion Smith

Smith, willie-Wordpress-1It’s a bar in Atlantic City, with some dude striding across the keys, playing a joyful kind of piano music that sounds like it could be from a movie made around the turn of the century. Before he plays the next tune, he explains what he’s doing and why. But he doesn’t recite a laundry list of dull names, dates and places, no sir. He’s reciting the living history of early jazz and he would know. He’s one of its masters.

That’s exactly what jazz pianist Willie Smith does, on The Memoirs of Willie The Lion Smith (RCA LSP 6016, stereo). On this two LP set, Willie does as much talking as playing and it’s a rare chance to hear him glibly talk about what we would now call jazz, before it had a name. Continue reading

Compared! CD vs LP: The Fabulous Fats Navarro

Fats-versus-WEB2Here is what you’ve been waiting for, a ringside seat at the battle of the century! It’s not Ali vs Frazier, it’s oil vs aluminum! Today I compare the same song from a vinyl LP and a CD. Compared! pits Blue Note BLP 1531, The Fabulous Fats Navarro Volume 1 against The Fats Navarro Story Properbox #11 four CD set out of the UK, remastered by Peter Rynston. I’m not using just any release of the LP, but the Toshiba-EMI reissue that is thought to be much better than many of the vinyl reissues made in America. In fact, the London Jazz Collector blog rates the Toshiba-EMIs as the fourth best pressings you can buy, with the original Lexington 47 West 63rds as best, followed by New York Blue Notes, then King Japan/Early division of Liberty 1966 coming in third. Continue reading

Deciphered! Nat King Cole and Lester Young

nate cole-lester young-blogWhen does a record seem too good to be true? When it’s Crown Records CST 412, Nat King Cole & Lester Young! Of the five tunes, Lester does play on all five, but Cole only two. Given Cole on the cover, you’d think he would be on every song. It’s always hard to know what you’re getting with Crown, since there are never any liner notes.

All the online discographies list this 1962 stereo LP as being taken from the July 15, 1942 Los Angeles performance on the Philo/Aladdin label, but something just didn’t add up. Continue reading