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December 13, 2009


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Doug Zielke

I found the comments of Mr.Cohen interesting. I agree with him that although vinyl is making a comeback, it will never surpass the current digital formats. If not sonically, it's the ease of the mp3 player's accessibility that fills most peoples music needs.
To unlock the acoustic benefits of vinyl playback, a person really has to make some serious commitments. The financial side alone can be enough to discourage the budding "vinylphile".
However, once you have found the magical synergy between components and the medium itself, the sound rendered can be breathtakingly similar to live performance.

Matt LeGroulx

I have to disagree. The moment a group musicians playing in a room is captured by microphones and sent through two (or four or more) speakers, no matter how high the quality of all the components, the fidelity of the original aural event has been compromised to the extent that it cannot approximate live performance. Ultimate fidelity is sitting in front the people playing. Any recording, no matter how good, will never sound the same as that performance. It may sound better but never the same. I think far too much is made of the differences between media. They are for the most part stereo representations of that original event. Nothing can really come close but the human mind is a powerful thing and if one wishes hard enough one can find oneself in the midst of, say even Louis Armstrong's Hot Five swinging Muskrat Ramble despite the obvious limitations of the recording medium. That sense of history can be palpable. But recordings are exactly that and can never be truly comparable to a live performance.

Vikram Devasthali

I am the proud owner of a copy of "Polite Jazz", and can sincerely affirm the appropriateness of its title. It is a good LP for Great American Songbook aficionados, with several selections you aren't likely to hear elsewhere--"I'm Putting All My Eggs In One Basket" by Irving Berlin, anyone?
As for the lofty claims made in the liner notes--well, you'll just have to pick up a copy and decide for yourself:
"Remember the days when jazz used to be considered vulgar, raucous and uncouth, the kind of music that just wasn't heard in polite company? Well, those days are really gone--and here the word "gone is used in its original meaning...The polite jazz contained on this record would not only be approved by the Society for the Preservation of Blue Blood, but should also draw a good deal of actual approbation from those who have always liked jazz for itself, with all sociological holds barred. It's definitely very superior jazz, very listenable jazz, very easy jazz, very relaxed jazz."

John P. Cooper

The "Polite Jazz" genre was a commercial venture to make Jazz more appealing to people who didn't like Jazz much. All the 'Polite Jazz" LPs I have heard tend to be somewhat reserved and demure with nothing too loud or too torrid. The one that comes to mind was a Rex Stewart and some great trombonist on RCA Victor called "Chatter Jazz" which has the two protagonists 'chattering' to each other with their instruments. Heartbreakingly bad.


In my opinion, CDs represented poorer, althoght cheaper, sound quality than vinyl.
Today's trend is mp3, whose compresion technique makes the sound ever worst but, again, cheaper.
Since the market is embracing practicality and prize over quality is not surprising that the dying formar is CD.
In Barcelona shops, CD space has been reduced by 50% in the last year alone, while LP have gone up four times the previous level (I´m talking about jazz and rock music sections). CD only shops have closed down while vinyl shops, based on second hand and reeditions, are selling more than ever.
It seems that the quality plus nostalgia market has a good future.

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  • Marc Myers writes regularly for The Wall Street Journal and is author of "Anatomy of a Song" (Grove) and "Why Jazz Happened." Founded in 2007, JazzWax is a two-time winner of the Jazz Journalists Association's best blog award.

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