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Erroll Garner’s “Concert By the Sea” as 3-CD Box by Sony Legacy

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I have to disagree with you on the diamond cutter assertion Larry.  You wait til the familiar notes hit and pod up the crowd track. Maybe you vary the reaction time - two notes? 4? But it really is not hard to duplicate such a thing, and unless the crowd reaction came in too early no one would detect it.

What would be harder is if it had been an intimate club setting, because then you might want to hear individual reactions, perhaps an audible "Aah" from some extra perceptive person before the applause builds up in a split second.

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Think it's about time for me to retire from this thread, because I seem to be beating my head against the ground. But if we assume that the Garner's performances at the Carmel concert are inspired (perhaps uniquely inspired or certainly have a unique flavor -- and I say that not as a Garner completist but as a Garner fan who's heard a lot of his recorded work from that period), faked "live" studio performances would have been unlikely to be as inspired and/or just different in flavor/tone. Literally we wouldn't have known the difference between the actual performances and the "fake" ones because we never would have heard the Carmel performances, but the "fake" performances likely would not have electrified listeners the way the real performances did. 

 

"Dimineundo and Crescendo in Blue" from the Newport set was refurbished before the "Complete Ellington at Newport" set was released in 1999 -- was spectral analysis software around back then ?

...

To take recorded-in-the-studio performances and insert fake but convincing versions of that particular sort of crowd response might not be impossible, but it would, I think, take the judgment and nerves of a diamond cutter.

Regarding point 1, no the technology was not available in 1999.  The stereo on Newport was achieved by synching two different monaural recordings of the same music, each recorded with different mic placements.

Regarding the second point:  I'm not saying fake live albums make sense, or that they are a good idea.  I am simply stating that they exist and that the practice was widespread.  And yes, many were based on actual live performances, such as Peggy Lee at Basin Street and the Peggy Lee/George Shearing Beauty and the Beat.  If they had faked Concert by the Sea, it would not have been any more bizarre or outrageous than any of the others.  And the people who would have bought the LP would not have known the difference.

Again, IIRC there were practical reasons, good, bad, or otherwise, for both "Lee at Basin Street" and "Beauty and the Beast" being re-recorded in the studio. By contrast, balancing sound quality and quality of performance, there was no good reason to re-record "Concert by the Sea" in the studio and add fake applause/crowd reactions. Further, to repeat what I said, to make fake applause/crowd reactions  sound convincing on "Concert By the Sea" would have taken the judgment and nerves of a diamond cutter, given the way audiences spontaneously reacted when they recognized what tunes lay behind Garner's off-the-wall intros. Just listen to the album and see how particular to each piece the flow of that response is.

To be fair, neither you nor I can say why a producer made particular choices 60 years ago.  I can't remember why I made certain choices on an album that I edited only a year ago.  They made sense at the time. 

If "Concert by the Sea" were faked, no would have known or cared, including you and me.  

Think it's about time for me to retire from this thread, because I seem to be beating my head against the ground. But if we assume that the Garner's performances at the Carmel concert are inspired (perhaps uniquely inspired or certainly have a unique flavor -- and I say that not as a Garner completist but as a Garner fan who's heard a lot of his recorded work from that period), faked "live" studio performances would have been unlikely to be as inspired and/or just different in flavor/tone. Literally we wouldn't have known the difference between the actual performances and the "fake" ones because we never would have heard the Carmel performances, but the "fake" performances likely would not have electrified listeners the way the real performances did. 


 

I have to disagree with you on the diamond cutter assertion Larry.  You wait til the familiar notes hit and pod up the crowd track. Maybe you vary the reaction time - two notes? 4? But it really is not hard to duplicate such a thing, and unless the crowd reaction came in too early no one would detect it.

What would be harder is if it had been an intimate club setting, because then you might want to hear individual reactions, perhaps an audible "Aah" from some extra perceptive person before the applause builds up in a split second.

We wouldn't know for sure until someone tried, but listening to the performances it seems to me that the ripples of recognition vary a fair bit from track to track. Per my post above, if we never had a chance to hear the actual Carmel tracks we certainly wouldn't be able to pinpoint the difference between the actual crowd reactions and added-to-studio-tracks crowd response, but I'd guess that those who heard only the latter "studio tracks plus added crowd response" performances  (should they have existed) would have sensed a certain damp squid feeling to the results. 

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Where did this album fall in Mr. Garner's time with Columbia Records?  Wasn't he still fairly new with the label (although certainly not new to recording)?  Jimmy Lyons mentions that he had already recorded the Music For Tired Lovers album with Woody Herman.  Some one (George Avakian?) must have gone to the trouble of pursuing Mr. Garner & Ms. Glaser and convincing them to join the Columbia roster of artists, so one would suppose they all had some idea what they hoped to gain from this collaboration.  Perhaps a "live" album was an idea at the time, but why then not make a legitimately produced "live" album?  Mr. Garner at the time of this recording was appearing at the Black Hawk in San Francisco, so Columbia could have easily brought their equipment into that club and made an Erroll Garner In San Francisco! album, for example -- but they didn't.  Instead they relied upon this material which just kind of fell in their laps because Will Thornbury decided to and received permission to record this performance at some unheard of venue in little Carmel.

Granted, when they heard these tapes, they must have realized this was a really good performance even if the audio quality was less than pristine.  And perhaps they would not have captured a similar performance if they had brought a truckload of recording equipment into the Black Hawk -- perhaps Mr. Garner would have played differently if he knew Columbia was spending a bunch of money recording him there and then.  I don't know.  It just seems odd that Columbia Records -- the Tiffany's and Rolls Royce combined of record companies -- would rely on this semi-pro recording to produce an album for one of their major jazz artists.

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Where did this album fall in Mr. Garner's time with Columbia Records?  Wasn't he still fairly new with the label (although certainly not new to recording)?  Jimmy Lyons mentions that he had already recorded the Music For Tired Lovers album with Woody Herman.  Some one (George Avakian?) must have gone to the trouble of pursuing Mr. Garner & Ms. Glaser and convincing them to join the Columbia roster of artists, so one would suppose they all had some idea what they hoped to gain from this collaboration.  Perhaps a "live" album was an idea at the time, but why then not make a legitimately produced "live" album?  Mr. Garner at the time of this recording was appearing at the Black Hawk in San Francisco, so Columbia could have easily brought their equipment into that club and made an Erroll Garner In San Francisco! album, for example -- but they didn't.  Instead they relied upon this material which just kind of fell in their laps because Will Thornbury decided to and received permission to record this performance at some unheard of venue in little Carmel.

Granted, when they heard these tapes, they must have realized this was a really good performance even if the audio quality was less than pristine.  And perhaps they would not have captured a similar performance if they had brought a truckload of recording equipment into the Black Hawk -- perhaps Mr. Garner would have played differently if he knew Columbia was spending a bunch of money recording him there and then.  I don't know.  It just seems odd that Columbia Records -- the Tiffany's and Rolls Royce combined of record companies -- would rely on this semi-pro recording to produce an album for one of their major jazz artists.

"Concert By the Sea" was the first Garner recording that Columbia released, with the exception of the one-off "Music for Tired Lovers" with Woody Herman from 1954 (an enjoyable album BTW). After "Concert By the Sea" Garner was a Columbia artist for some time. I wouldn't be surprised if Avakian had had his eye on Garner before "Concert By the Sea," but perhaps we shouldn't overthink this. The Carmel concert happened, Columbia/Avakian became aware of it, and bada-bing-bada-bong.

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My copy arrived two days ago, it was my first listen to ths music, as I never got around to buy the originally released album - I always hoped for a completed version. I am a bit in awe, I knew Garner only from his Dial and Savoy sides and the Misty session for Mercury and had no idea what kind of powerful player he could be. My hat is off.

I think Ahmad Jamal must be added to the list to those inspired by Garner, not stylistically, bit as far as drama and treatment of standard tunes is concerned. 

Would I feel cheated if it was a faked live recording? I dunno, I feel more cheated by the laboriously edited Miles Davis albums that Teo Macero spliced together, or the edits, even of a Lateef saxophone run, on Mingus' Pre-Bird. To me, these edits introduce a perfectionist attitude that works against the spontaneity I associate with jazz - if you want that, work like a classical composer. But faked live ... I know some producers avoided live recordings for reasons of sound imperfections, but who cares if it is inspired? Any type of editing or re-working takes away from the performance spirit. I'd rather hear some tape hiss but have a sterile sounding digitized remix. Just my two cents. 

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…I feel more cheated by the laboriously edited Miles Davis albums that Teo Macero spliced together, or the edits, even of a Lateef saxophone run, on Mingus' Pre-Bird. To me, these edits introduce a perfectionist attitude that works against the spontaneity I associate with jazz - if you want that, work like a classical composer. 

Wow, with all respect, I could not disagree more.  I think a recording is a completely separate thing from a live gig.  The process is not important to me; the finished product is what matters.  And I don't care whether what I'm listening to meets the criteria for being "jazz."  I want to hear good music. 

In fact, I consider Teo Macero to be a member of the band (Miles's band, not Erroll Garner's). 

 
Edited by Teasing

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Teo was a classical composer. Seriously.

 

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 I feel more cheated by the laboriously edited Miles Davis albums that Teo Macero spliced together, or the edits, even of a Lateef saxophone run, on Mingus' Pre-Bird. To me, these edits introduce a perfectionist attitude that works against the spontaneity I associate with jazz - if you want that, work like a classical composer. Bu 

I think George Avakian (whom I greatly admire) also edited and sometimes even dropped in notes to get a better Lp.  and that was back in the day when you had to cut tape by hand. 

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Well, I see your - and the producer's - point, but I think music is a real time process and a recording should reflect that - this real time process is what distinguishes music from the basic attitudes of painting and sculpture, to mention just two other art froms. I am aware that the possibilities of tape editing and manipulation opened up a whole 'nother world for music recording, but I feel uneasy with it. I have my own - and some positive - experiences with editing and overdubbing, but in the end I think it misses the point. Just my opinion, of course. 

Edited by mikeweil

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…I feel more cheated by the laboriously edited Miles Davis albums that Teo Macero spliced together, or the edits, even of a Lateef saxophone run, on Mingus' Pre-Bird. To me, these edits introduce a perfectionist attitude that works against the spontaneity I associate with jazz - if you want that, work like a classical composer. 

Wow, with all respect, I could not disagree more.  I think a recording is a completely separate thing from a live gig.  The process is not important to me; the finished product is what matters.  And I don't care whether what I'm listening to meets the criteria for being "jazz."  I want to hear good music. 

In fact, I consider Teo Macero to be a member of the band (Miles's band, not Erroll Garner's). 

 

I, sort of, agree with you except I don't know who decides what's "good music".

You're being a little grumpy IMHO.

BTW, I'm a fan of Concert By The Sea.

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Well, I see your - and the producer's - point, but I think music is a real time process and a recording should reflect that - this real time process is what distinguishes music from the basic attitudes of painting and sculpture, to mention just two other art froms. I am aware that the possibilities of tape editing and manipulation opened up a whole 'nother world for music recording, but I feel uneasy with it. I have my own - and some positive - experiences with editing and overdubbing, but in the end I think it misses the point. Just my opinion, of course. 

Music as a "real time process", yes, of course, but taken literally it means that all music would be sight-reading and/or improvisation. Taken to its most logical extreme, it would dictate that practicing as we know it would not be a pursuit of a more fully realized musicality, it would be honing a mechanical perfection. That, I'm sure you'll agree, is up to the individual as to what it becomes.

As cool as it is that back in the day, all those Sinatra things were cut live in the studio with the orchestra, or that all those Blue Notes were cut live and that the band pretty much mixed itself by knowing how to play live, that was one thing, perfectly executed. There are other things to do, though. Other things and other reasons. Not all of them equally "pure" in motivation (or outcome), but...what's new there?

I get that recording presents the opportunity for an illusion of a perfection that does not exist, a false "reality", but the less one accepts that as a potential reality, the less one is tempted to engage the fear. People who take records at face value (from any era, really, what the ear hears and what the eyes might have seem before during and after the recording...hey...)  get what they deserve, which is also what they expect, and, really, when has it ever been otherwise? I'm not gonna worry about that, I relish the hearing of the splices, the hearing of the insets, all that. And when they're there but I can't notice them, that's a kick too. And when they're not there at all, well, congratulations to all concerned! Otherwise, live music is live music, recorded music is recorded music, not at all the same thing, just by nature.

If we're going to be hardcore about this "real time experience" thing, then all the composer's sketches, all the player's practicings, they all do in fact become a form of sculpture or painting. And as long as there is electricity, the need to be present at a performance of music in order to experience it has become an option, not a necessity. Printing has long ago done the same thing with painting, and holography will at some point do the same for sculpture. Is it the same "thing"? Of course not. But by the same token, it is its own thing, and not recognizing it as such and then evaluating it entirely through the lens of one's own discomforts onto it seems to me to be more about subjective projection than it does logical evaluation.

I would never argue against the validity and/or necessity of either, but I would never argue for the equating of the two. That's kinda like standing on the corner thinking that all the traffic is out to get you, to leave you stranded and vulnerable. That's an self-directed outcome, not an externally generated intent.

To use the Sinatra example again, Duets sucks not because it's not "real, it sucks because they did it so poorly. And having heard the partner-less  Siantra w/orchestra sessions, I can tell you that the whispers that they themselves were "cleaned up" a lot before ever getting into further post-production does not at all see far-fetched. And I'm ok with that, because it still hits the gut, and I'd have been ok with the Duets album as released if it and done so as well. But they didn't, they just slopped that shit together and didn't try to make it sound like they new what they were doing. OTOH, a good remixer would have made that shit work. Oh well, cynicism of intent revealed, but then again, I was not the kind of fool they were aiming that shit at eitehr. I'm the kind of fool that gets off on the Ring-A-Ding-Ding session reels.

That, and this:

Movies and theater, that's really what we're talking about here.

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I, sort of, agree with you except I don't know who decides what's "good music".

You're being a little grumpy IMHO.

BTW, I'm a fan of Concert By The Sea.

We all decide individually what is "good music."

I drink too much wine to be grumpy.

I am neither a fan of Erroll Garner or Concert by the Sea.  I like his mambo album, and I like the bossa track that I burned from "A New Kind of Love" before I unloaded it.  

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I think listening at home and particpating in a concert is different thing and I am looking for different elements in each.

In a live concert, I am looking for authenticity, excellence in playing and showmanship and especially, interaction with the audience as the last member of the band.

At home, I care nought for this, I am looking for the best sound and take I can get, yes, this may rub-up and go against the grain of the interaction and spontaneity of jazz. But at home I am looking for mood and the concentrated essence, the exploration is there, absolutely, but I appreciate the producer and engineer's art in creating the perfect take, if necessary. Of course, when it comes to jazz, this is less of an issue then say with 1980s production values in rock and pop music.

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This discussion reminds me again how valuable the compact disc has been. Live vs studio aside, so much music was cut, not just for artistic presentation or to release a perfect performance but for expediency to fit on an LP. Just two examples that would not have been possible without the cd are the box sets, Miles Davis at the Plugged Nickel and In A Silent Way, the latter where you can hear both the full sessions as well as the edited and spliced takes as released on LP. And the former being able to hear the music as it was performed without subjective cuts because a bass or drum solo was too long.

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Perhaps there should be a sperate thread for the discussion of real time recording vs. editing etc. - and yes, I was a bit grumpy. On Sunday afternoon we buried the ashes of my best friend and listening and drumming buddy of the last thirty years. We listened to and discussed a lot of this music, and his passing leaves a giant gap in my life. I thought about writing about it here, still do (and just did), but couldn't find the right words ... but the burial ceremony his family and best friends had was very nice, his resting place under an old oak tree in his favourite woods from childhood is perfect, just as the circumstances of his passing were not - this all occupied my mind quite a bit. I just wanted to express my personal preferences. And I, too, value the CD as a medium to give us the unabridged performances. Ah, the human struggle for perfectionism - the older I get, the less I value perfection vs. authenticity. 

Teo was a classical composer. Seriously.

 

... and his attitudes from that artistic perspective influenced his production work, for good of for bad. He made a series of studio jams into a groundbreaking LP release, e.g. Bitches Brew, which is an art form in itself. 

In retrospect, I value the raw sound of the unedited Cellar Door recordings higher than that.

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Sorry for of your loss, Mike. I know that was tough. And you've been presence enough here lon enough for me to know that you neither abide nor otherwise embrace cheapness. I certainly hope I didn't give you the impression that I thought otherwise.

My only point was that they're two different things, recording as documentation and recording as object. two different aesthetics, really, and of course we each have our own preferences, even as we can appreciate many things past that preference.

The Miles/Teo thing is really interesting to me because people who think that Miles just rolled tape and left it to Teo miss out that, if his "firing" of Teo because of how he messed up Quiet Nights was any indication, he DID pay attention to the end results. For that matter, the Miles/Gil thing itself was built on a foundation of editing/splicing/what have you. There's some who feel that that music was too complex, too nuanced, too subtle, to be successfully performed live. Given the results of the few times it was, they're not necessarily wrong, but their point remains very pertinent. It was, I think, music conceived for recording, and once you go that way with it, well, why halfass it? Where's the "limit"?

Teo deserves more props than just editing jams into tighter, releasable product. The more he got into the music of On the Corner and beyond, the more you can sense a real composer's mind in the results. Perhaps it is a true "Third Stream" music, a fusing of composition and improvisation using the type of materials that could only come from a live source. Perhaps the goal is not so much "perfection" as it is an attempted transcendence of the limitations in both composition and improvisation. I like to think of it that way, anyway.

Teo was an interesting guy, really. Appears to have be a bit of a blowhard, maybe, but still, some real chops, real skills, definitely not a lightweight, and as much as I like the Bill Laswell remixes of Miles/Teo's original work, something like the original Rated X, hearing that in real time, that was just like WHOA, WTF?, it was obvious that was a construction, but holy shit, what a construction! And "Pharaoh's Dance, when I finally got around to objective listening and hearing the construction of that, same thing, this guy was a true composer. If Ellington's real instrument was his band, then Teo's might have been the tapes. Laswell said something along the lines of Teo didn't really understand the implications of that mucic, or didn't have the technological skills to deal with it, something like that, to whcih I say bullshit, calling it on my dime. Teo knew exactly what he was doing. Laswell is doing to Teo what Teo did to Miles, only without the benefit of being live with the music as it was being made and collaborating directly with the makers of it. OTOH, that itself is an benefit of its own. Funny how that works...

It's kinda funny to hear how Miles was not really aware of how subsequent recording methods had changed, apparently when he began to work on Tutu with Marcus Miller, he had to have it explained to him how all this was going to work. But he picked up on it, and turned it into some great live performances. So,, full circle, complete 180, whatever the appropriate metaphor is, recording influences live influences recording again, it's a loop, and it's only going to be as valid and compelling as the participants. You get a lazy guy doing lazy shit, that's gonna suck not matter what, even if it "sounds good" it's gonna suck for all the wrong reasons. You get two lively minds like Miles & Teo working together..it ain't gonna suck...or if it does, it will suck for all the right reasons, just like live playing.

For my money, the In A Silent Way box is one of the most amazingly revealing documents this music has seen. The raw performances are not even remotely together enough to be released without some serious editing, the actual album was shockingly edited, controversial in its time in some quarters, some people claiming it was a ripoff because a solo was repeated (The Sonny Stitt Conundrum at a whole new level). To hear it all laid out like this leaves as many new questions as it answers old ones...the main one for me being, what was anybody supposed to do with this? What could anybody do with this?

I always prefer music that is the result of choices being made to music that isn't. Of course, that's really pretty much all music at some level of abstraction, but...the music where the choices are more or less immediate (realtive to human history, any way), that's the shit that get to me.

But oh yeah...Erroll Garner...this is not his best playing, not for me, but it's stimulating interest, so yeah, good thing as far as it goes, and if further interest dwindles after everybody hears the hit, then oh well, history repeats itself, always, right?

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For my money, the In A Silent Way box is one of the most amazingly revealing documents this music has seen. The raw performances are not even remotely together enough to be released without some serious editing, the actual album was shockingly edited, controversial in its time in some quarters, some people claiming it was a ripoff because a solo was repeated (The Sonny Stitt Conundrum at a whole new level). To hear it all laid out like this leaves as many new questions as it answers old ones...the main one for me being, what was anybody supposed to do with this? What could anybody do with this?

 

Then Miles began doing live performances of Teo's version of It's About That Time. 

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Just received my copy of the Japanese version today. Can't wait to get home and listen!

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Just finished listening to the original concert (discs 1 and 2).  It's been a long time since I've been impressed the way I was here.  All the more surprising because the original album, for some reason, never held my attention.  Was it the sound quality, the edits, the rechanneled stereo?  But the new edition was like being at the concert; I was simply not prepared for what I heard.  Garner was the consummate musician/entertainer, in a way that really doesn't exist anymore.  His improvisations were logical, organized, surprising and delightful. I was captivated; none of his studio recordings that I've heard made the point so well.  BTW, it's still available from Amazon Prime for $5.39.  Snap it up if you haven't already!

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On 11/28/2018 at 11:27 PM, mjzee said:

Just finished listening to the original concert (discs 1 and 2).  It's been a long time since I've been impressed the way I was here.  All the more surprising because the original album, for some reason, never held my attention.  Was it the sound quality, the edits, the rechanneled stereo?  But the new edition was like being at the concert; I was simply not prepared for what I heard.  Garner was the consummate musician/entertainer, in a way that really doesn't exist anymore.  His improvisations were logical, organized, surprising and delightful. I was captivated; none of his studio recordings that I've heard made the point so well.  BTW, it's still available from Amazon Prime for $5.39.  Snap it up if you haven't already!

Alright, alright... I guess I have to buy it. Too many superlatives in this thread and for under $2/disc, why not give it a try?

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I’ll have to give it a listen, too. My thoughts on the album were exactly the same as the ones expressed by mjzee. It was a “nice” album that simply didn’t do anything for me.

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On November 28, 2018 at 11:27 PM, mjzee said:

Just finished listening to the original concert (discs 1 and 2).  It's been a long time since I've been impressed the way I was here.  All the more surprising because the original album, for some reason, never held my attention.  Was it the sound quality, the edits, the rechanneled stereo?  But the new edition was like being at the concert; I was simply not prepared for what I heard.  Garner was the consummate musician/entertainer, in a way that really doesn't exist anymore.  His improvisations were logical, organized, surprising and delightful. I was captivated; none of his studio recordings that I've heard made the point so well.  BTW, it's still available from Amazon Prime for $5.39.  Snap it up if you haven't already!

This very much reflects my experience with the expanded album.  I did like the original LP, but it was nowhere near as engaging as the expanded release.  And I particularly agree with "Garner was the consummate musician/entertainer, in a way that really doesn't exist anymore."  It's easy to forget today how jazz, pop music, and show biz were all intertwined during that time.  You can't have musician/entertainers like this anymore, because the cultural foundations for that sort of interconnectedness no longer exist.

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38 minutes ago, Teasing the Korean said:

It's easy to forget today how jazz, pop music, and show biz were all intertwined during that time.  You can't have musician/entertainers like this anymore, because the cultural foundations for that sort of interconnectedness no longer exist.

Yes, and I wonder whether we can include certain classical performers in that mix.  I've been intrigued by this Oscar Levant box currently available.  Not sure I'm ready to pay $80 when I've never even heard him.  But consider this: "At the height of his popularity, pianist Oscar Levant was the highest-paid concert artist in America. He outdrew Horowitz and Rubinstein, with whom he shared the distinction of a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He performed under conductors including Toscanini, Beecham, Mitropoulos, Reiner and Ormandy, and was the definitive interpreter of his friend George Gershwin. Levant's 1945 recording of Rhapsody in Blue remained one of Columbia Records' best-selling albums for decades."

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5 minutes ago, mjzee said:

Yes, and I wonder whether we can include certain classical performers in that mix.  I've been intrigued by this Oscar Levant box currently available.  Not sure I'm ready to pay $80 when I've never even heard him.  But consider this: "At the height of his popularity, pianist Oscar Levant was the highest-paid concert artist in America. He outdrew Horowitz and Rubinstein, with whom he shared the distinction of a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He performed under conductors including Toscanini, Beecham, Mitropoulos, Reiner and Ormandy, and was the definitive interpreter of his friend George Gershwin. Levant's 1945 recording of Rhapsody in Blue remained one of Columbia Records' best-selling albums for decades."

Absolutely.  And I have often felt that the distinctions between genres were a little more fluid then. 

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Oscar Levant was a character.

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