Interview: George Avakian (Part 5) - JazzWax

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March 19, 2010


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Doug Zielke

Marc...yet another fantastic set of interviews. Thank you and best wishes, Mr. Avakian.

Ed Leimbacher

Another fine interview, with you pursuing and pinning Mr. Avakian gently when answers were incomplete or led to other queries. I note he might have credited Alex Steinweiss for all those early jacket covers, and I ponder his claim to have inspired Sketches of Spain; that is similar to me claiming I helped name Starbucks--even if true, no one acknowledges it.

I've not seen Miles or Gil ever credit Avakian as the source... Were they forgetful? ungrateful? unaware? Has he conflated different events? Did I miss their thanks expressed somewhere?

Chris Albertson

I was hoping you might solicit from George some comments on the destructive work Phil Schaap did on the 1938 Goodman concert (and other albums, for that matter). I know that George was quite upset, as were many consumers.

That said, your interviews continue to be well conducted and informative. Thank you.

Ian Carey

One of my favorite things about these interviews is finding out how albums, bands, etc. which in retrospect seem like historical inevitabilities were actually just the result of people saying, "how about this?" It's especially interesting to read about the crafting of the "Miles Davis brand"--strange (but I guess it shouldn't be surprising) to learn that a practice which seems like such a contemporary phenomenon has most likely been around forever.

John P. Cooper

From a totally different standpoint, I would like to know why early Columbia LPs had the disc coming out the top of the cover instead of the side as in later days.

When and why was the inner paper or plastic sleeve introduced. (I love those sealed plastic Columbia inner sleeves with the serrated edges. When you find one today still sealed after more than 40 years, it's torture trying to decide whether to open or not.)

I would also like to know when the concept of sealing LPs in plastic first began and why?

And I would like to know about the competition that RCA was creating on a marketing level and a Jazz level.

Thanks! First hand information like this about the business is very difficult to obtain.

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  • Marc Myers writes regularly for The Wall Street Journal and is author of "Anatomy of 55 More Songs," "Anatomy of a Song," "Rock Concert: An Oral History" and "Why Jazz Happened." Founded in 2007, JazzWax has won three Jazz Journalists Association awards.
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