Top 50 JAzz Blog

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Cost of Everything, The Value of Dean

First cousin to the " Tubes versus IC's" discussion concerns those poor folks who care nothing about the creative aspects of a performance and everything about how it was recorded, or, the fact that it completes their collection of Sophie Tucker recordings. We all know these guys (I never met a woman who did it) and the tedious discussions they try to suck you into: who sat in the second trombone chair in the afternoon-not the evening-recording session of June 5, or how clear the sound is of some execrable vaudeville piece of cheese.

To these people, I have 2 words: Dean Benedetti. Jazz people know that he's the saxophone player who followed Bird around two coasts, taping him with a portable Sears disc-cutter, then a tape recorder with paper tape. He recorded from any precarious perch he could find, including a crawl-space under a bandstand, into which he drilled a hole to stick a microphone (Granted, Benedetti only recorded Parker's solos and no one else's, which is a bit strange).

Yes, the sound quality stinks, but, the recordings are absolutely priceless. The wonder of Bird's playing renders considerations of the audio quality immaterial.

I'm a strict anti-nostal-giast, but if I have a weak spot, it's that the snaps, crackles and pops I hear off vinyl, acetate, shellac etc, bring me emotionally deeper into the experience of listening. When I turn on the pristine, mistake-free recordings I hear on jazz shows, my ears glaze over and the poor musicians on the recordings have to work that much harder to hook me. However, let me hear a spinet with some tuning issues and I perk up my ears. It resonates with that lobe in my brain stuffed with audio of Tatum, Monk and Bud working on pianos that are more junk than instrument and making them speak in glorious tongues.


rob chalfen said...

watch what you say about my Sophie Tucker records!

Steve Provizer said...

meant to impugn the myopic collector, not the Last of the Red Hot Mamas.

Chris Rich said...

Since most of my focused listening is a kind of 'free jazz' research for fun, the density of it all makes me want fairly robust sound resolution just to make sense of it.

I don't have much gear. Jim Hobbs saw it and said.."You use THAT to write descriptions??" as he pointed to my Sony discman patched into an abandoned boom box cassette dubbing thing from Pansonic I found abandoned in the gallery.

But it works for the tiny space I occupy where less is more. And I do get some equivalent to those cozy surface noises, little clicks when the fridge cycles off, some faint grinding of the disc player transport as the laser follows the spinning and of course the ambient noises of Inman square.

Right now it's 6 am and Serge Chaloff's Boston Blow up is accompanied by a bit of thunder and sizzling sounds of falling rain.

Steve Provizer said...

That sounds quite an amiable ambience.