[Dixielandjazz] More on "distortion" in early electrical recording

Ron L'Herault lherault at bu.edu
Tue Jan 11 06:16:59 PST 2005

I believe the track in question was not released until Columbia's Red Label
days so at the time of recording at least they felt they had a problem.

Ron L

-----Original Message-----
From: dixielandjazz-bounces at ml.islandnet.com
[mailto:dixielandjazz-bounces at ml.islandnet.com]On Behalf Of Anton Crouch
Sent: Tuesday, January 11, 2005 6:00 AM
Subject: [Dixielandjazz] More on "distortion" in early electrical

Hello all

Dick Broadie, Will Connelly, Mike Logsdon and Bob Smith have been most
astute with this subject and I hope that some of the non-historicists on
the list have enjoyed the interchange of ideas. Some other points that come
to mind are:

"Gurgling" - Mike used this term and I took it up. I agree that it is now
best used to describe a digital artefact in noise reduction. However, this
is not what can be heard on the May 1925 Columbias. John R T Davies, who
did the Bessie transfers for Frog, worked only in the analogue domain and
the Maggie Jones transfers that I have are also analogue (done by John
Waddley for VJM in the late 1960s). I suggest that the audible problems
that some of us hear are definitely a time-of-recording phenomenon.

Microphones - "too close" is a relative term and I am confident that when
both Bessie Smith and Maggie Jones next recorded (14 May 1925 and 12 June
1925 respectively) they were further away. This has nothing to do with
loudness - it's a matter of aural perspective.

Will's off-list discussion of carbon mikes is illuminating and certainly
raises another possibility - carbon packing.

As a final point, for the time being  :-) , Bessie seems to have had a
history of problems with "first" recording sessions. Her first (acoustic)
session (16 February 1923) involved 6 titles but only 2 were issued. Two
others from that session were re-done in April 1923 and issued after 10

All the best

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