[Dixielandjazz] Do records capture greatness?
csuhor at zebra.net
Sat Jun 11 09:19:41 PDT 2005
On Jun 11, 2005, at 1:44 AM, Steve barbone wrote:
> ... Ask Jack Maheu about those
> days at Condon's. As he tells Dick Sudhalter in "Lost Chords": page
> "If you could only have heard it back then" clarinetist Jack Maheu
> wonder edging in his voice. "You'd open the door to some little club
> those guys-Eddie and some of his cronies -were playing. And that music
> hit you like a fist, a blast of superheated steam. It was powerful. .
> . I
> mean lots of guys today play well. But back then there was something
> else -
> in Pee Wee, Bud, Wild Bill, Teagarden, George Wettling."
> The records? Yeah, some of them capture it a bit, but you should have
> heard what it sounded like live. You wouldn't
> have believed your ears. It was the most emotionally powerful kind of
> I've ever heard. But that's gone now."
Records might not capture it all, but for my dough the greatest
Dixieland-style sessions (i.e., post-early jazz) ever were the 1943
Wild Bill and Brunis Commodore classics (with Wettling, Pee Wee or
Edmond Hall, etc.), resissued as Commodore CD 7011, though a listmate
said a while back that they're no longer available. It's not just
nostalgia to say that you don't hear jazz like that anymore.
I do, though, have my doubts about the idea that the greatest artists
don't get their best stuff on record. Artists who've done a lot of
recording probably are heard at their best or near-best on some of the
sides. For example, I have the CD versions of the Charlie Parker
Benedetti materials, all recorded on live gigs. Even allowing for
diminished effect because of poor technology, I don't see that they
exceed the Bird's best studio work. Possibly, the on-site listener's
added aura of excitement comes from the magic of presence, from being
in the room with all the attendant electric ambience, making the music
seem a leap better in person than on record. On the other hand, some of
Bird's recorded concerts where he stretches out more suggest that he
burned more brightly when responding to an audience. This is an
unprovable argument either way--e.g., I claim that I never heard a
record that captured the excellence of Sharkey's under-recorded band of
the late 40s, and I suspect that all listmates have heard some live
performances beyond what's on record by a particular artist.
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