[Dixielandjazz] sounds of the twenties

Cebuisle2 at aol.com Cebuisle2 at aol.com
Thu Sep 22 16:19:39 PDT 2005

Actually, we don't know WHAT rhese 20's and 30's jazz groups really sounded  
like, so how can we judge them? 
Firstly, the drums couldn't be recorded, except cymbals, until Western  
Electric invented a sophisticated recording system during the late thirties.  
Muggsy Spanier's group made a splendid series of recordings using this system in  
38. Prior to that many systems consisted of just a horn into which everyone  
played, while the engineers hassled with the egos of the guys who wanted to out  
play everyone else .(Sidney you-know-who comes to mind)
Then there were the scratches, which magically appeared almost as soon as  
you played the recording a few times. This old phonos were not hi fi, many were  
wind up, using crude steel needles. I know. I bought a bunch of them.
Then there were the horns which often were far from top line instruments.  
many were promptly placed in hock shops during slack times when musicians had to 
 raise chickens (Kid Ory) for a living or maybe veggies (Bunk) Modern 
precision  manufacturing wasn't around then. Drum heads were REALLY calfskin, and 
sagged  badly if it was humid.
I am sure these old recordings sounded a lot better in the studio than they  
did to those  who bought the new records, or we who play them nearly a  
century later. Tinny? Yes. Scratchy? Yes. Comical? often. Chairs could be  clearly 
be heard scraping, probably as the guys reached for the gin bottle  during 
But I love to hear these early jazz tunes re-created by modern groups  using 
original instrumentation. I get up off the couch and do the second  line 
strut, with my wife's umbrella, at least until she yells from the kitchen,  "Knock 
it off!!"
        Hee Hee!   tradjazz

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