Waxing & musings. Bash the jazz LP as a time-killer and you're bound to hear about it. Following my commentary last Sunday about vinyl and the many hassles it created in the 1970s, I received many emails from readers who both supported my position and those who begged to differ.This one was from reader Chris Fine:
"In the early 1970’s, record companies started to skimp on the costs of pressing vinyl, and started using inferior vendors for lesser-selling genres. Since, unfortunately, jazz was experiencing sluggish popularity at the time, jazz records didn’t get either the quality pressing or the proper amount of quality control.
"The problem you ran into with the Sonny Stitt album, where a whole run was defective, was quite common. Most people, however, would think the problem was related to their turntable or stylus. Or they’d just return the disc and be done with it."Since the record companies naturally tended to put all their best people on the genres that sold best (true today, too, of course), many record companies didn't even bother to have someone check the test pressings of jazz releases. In fact, the problem may have even been with the original master itself, and they might not have checked that either!
"Another possibility, of course, is that either the store that sold you the Sonny Stitt album or the shipper stored the LPs in a place that was too warm or packed them in a way that caused the discs to warp.
"As far as your comment on digital music goes, I agree with you in terms of convenience and portability. Those of us who grew up with the dream of carrying their music libraries around with them are in our glory days now. But the quality of digital remastering varies widely."
This from Chris' brother Tom Fine:
"I got a chuckle out of your editorial about skipping LPs. I bought three different copies of Charlie Ventura's Jumping With Ventura, only to find out that the skip in one of the tunes was in the source used to create the LP.
"While most EmArcy jazz LPs were mastered at Fine Sound by George Piros or my father [C. Robert Fine], Mercury Sound Studios remastered some of them after the industry decided to standardize the RIAA curve (Mercury used the AES curve until 1955).
"Jumping with Ventura happens to be one of the titles that was remastered by Mercury, and both that version and the original pressing has the skip. I can't afford the Japanese import CD version, but I am curious about whether it, too, has the skip."
This is from Doug Zielke:
"I just couldn't read your comments about the LP and remain quiet. Painfully inconvenient? Turn them over? Cleaned delicately? Well, dealing with the vinyl format is hardly painful. That would describe, say, dental surgery.
"Rather, I find the 'ritual' I go through when playing records a source of pleasure and relaxation. Indeed, just watching my J.A. Mitchell turntable (which I consider a work of mechanical art) comforts me in knowing the world does not consist entirely of ones and zeros.
"Record hunting on a rainy weekend is also a most enjoyable adventure. Just ask any vinylphile about the joy he/she gets by flipping through the dusty bins looking for hidden treasures. And so what if your find has a warp, skip or pop? Not to worry. It's seldom bad enough to trash the entire record.
"Record collecting and playing teaches you many lessons, not the least of which is patience. When I want to really get involved with the music, I will warm up the vacuum tubes (more old tech) and put a stylus into the groove. It's a magic show that I can see and hear in my living room, anytime I want."
Shelly Manne. Reader Mel House sent along this email with a wonderful quote:
"I was listening to the Shelly Manne septet album West Coast Sounds this morning. While reading the liner notes, I noticed a funny quote from Shelly: We never play anything the same way once."
Oddball album cover of the week. The Dutch Fontana label issued this one in 1961. It was recorded live at Ronnie Scott's club in London. Hard to imagine how they came up with the concept, but if our saucy chef is dipping that ladle into the bell of that tenor, one can only assume something unsavory is in the mix.