connoisseur series500

Mosaic sets which are worth keeping despite material being made available elsewhere.

33 posts in this topic

Felser put up a post in another thread which put me to thinking. Mosaic prices have plummeted. We wont' go into the reasons, but many sets have material which can be obtained by picking up individual cds. I have held off, for example, buying the Mosaic Woody Shaw on Muse because I have pretty much everything there on the 32jazz issues. Felser, however, points out that the 32jazz cds are a mess--I would love if he could expound upon that, and so he sees the need to keep his Mosaic box of the same material. 

So which Mosaic sets are worth keeping despite all or part of the material being available in single issues? 

I begin by quoting from Felser's excellent comment in another thread: 

I actually have been selling off most of my Mosaic sets as the material becomes available on other CD's.  For instance, the Woody Shaw Columbia is totally trumped by that box set that Columbia put out - extra material, better sound, much lower price, smaller footprint.   Exception for me is the Woody Shaw Muse box - the 32jazz reissues are so shoddy, I don't have the heart to have that be my representation of that great material.   And the Elvin Jones, Lou Donaldson, Stanley Turrentine, Jackie McLean Blue Note boxes have important albums not readily available on Blue Note CD, and the Gerald Wilson and Jazz Crusaders Pacific Jazz sets the same.   Beyond that, I only have a smattering of big boxes (Roach, MJQ, Sonny Stitt come to mind), and I expect to sell them eventually.  I have kept a lot more of the Selects, which I prefer.

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Well, the thing about the Woody Shaw Muse set is that it replaced those god-awful 32Jazz reissues, with the black-soft-plastic cases (can't even call them jewel-boxes) -- with the adhesive covers, and god-awful new artwork.  Yes, the original liners text was reproduced, but that's about all they had going for them.  How many Euro public-domain reissues with fake (similar) artwork are frankly BETTER than those 32Jazz things (which made my skill crawl).

The Woody Shaw Muse Mosaic was the *ONLY* Mosaic set I think I've ever(!) pre-ordered, and I did so without even really thinking about it -- so strong was my distaste for the 32Jazz versions (all of which I had) -- and cuz I love Woody Shaw so much, yeah.

As far as other sets -- the only ones I've gone out of my way to try and replace with individual CD's have been the Andrew Hill big box, the Sam Rivers, and the Larry Young (but have haven't gotten rid of the Mosaic's yet, probably cuz I got Hill and Rivers to sign the booklets for them).  No reason I really "had" to buy all those singles, other than my great and deep love of those particular artists.

Ideally I'd prefer to be able to replace all my Mosaics with individual CD's of every album -- but that would be insanely cost-prohibitive -- so I've only done that with just those 3 Blue Note artists in particular.  Oh, and the Don Cherry too (it felt silly to have a 2-CD Mosaic, honestly -- and Complete Communion being one of my personal top-20 Blue Note albums, I had to have the individual disc of just it, so why not grab the other two since they were all Conns and easy to get).

But I've got 20-30 other Mosaic sets I could probably go way out of my way to replace with individual CD's -- but if I started down that road, where would I stop?? :wacko:

So I stopped with Hill, Rivers, Young (and Cherry) -- since they were all in a category by themselves (in my hierarchy of favorite artists).

That said, there have a been a handful of particular albums/sessions that I've bought singles of (even though I have that same material as part of a bigger Mosaic), simply because the session is so near and dear to my heart (and especially if the session was split across 2 CD's on the Mosaic).  John Patton's That Certain Feeling is one, and that one Bobby Hutcherson date with Woody Shaw (from the Hutcherson Select) is another -- also all the Jackie McLean dates with Charles Tolliver (from the McLean Mosaic) I have as singles.  Basically there has to be some fairly specific 'special' reason for me to buy a duplicate of a title, otherwise where does it ever end??

(I do also own a couple single discs of favorites from the Joe Henderson Milestones box too, under the same logic).  But that's really about it.  I think(?) I only less than 20 (maybe less than 15?) individual CD's of material that I have duplicated as part of a bigger box -- which doesn't seem too insane.

PS:  I'm pretty proud of the fact that I *haven't* bought ANY individual Miles Davis titles on CD (since I have all the metal-spine boxes) -- other than Kind of Blue (pretty hard not to own a single of that one).  Not counting the expanded Bitches Brew in that, since it came with extra DVD's of live stuff (the only reason I bought it).  But yeah, other than Kind of Blue, I don't have ANY unnecessary duplicated Miles in my collection.

Edited by Rooster_Ties

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Interestingly, I HAVE bought individual Miles titles besides owning the Metal Spine boxes (except for the prohibitively expensive On The Corner box).  I don't like handling those boxes, and I like being able to quickly grab one of the CD's.  As far as the Mosaic's, my intention isn't to duplicate the boxes with single CD's, it's to replace the boxes.  I find individual Blue Note CD's to have a subjective magic about them, and prefer them to any other format for that material.  And since I sold many of my Mosaic boxes (Blue Note and otherwise) during Mosaic Madness and replaced them with  other CD formats of the same material, I had some economic gain.  I also had Mosaic boxes that I sold too early at way too low of a price, and too late to get the premium prices, so I have not optimized the experience.  Some of those early Mosaic boxes were miracles to me (such as the Blakey, the McLean, the Young, the Green/Clark, etc.  Tina Brooks?  Really?  wow, count me in!), but the appeal was the music rather than the format.  I've never been enamored of the big boxes, the lack of original album cover artwork, etc.  I agree the 2CD boxes, such as the Cherry and the Freddie Redd, seemed really silly to me, and our house is 1800 sq. feet, so I don't have lots of extra space crying to be filled up with oversize box sets.  That being said, I have bought (and sold) dozens of Mosaic sets, still own 25 of the Selects and 15 of the big boxes, and am starting to buy back some of the big box titles I sold off during the craziness, and am thankful for what Cuscuna & Co.  have provided us over the past 30 years.

Edited by felser

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The Miles metal-spine boxes don't bother me nearly as much as the Bill Evans "Rusty" box -- which I finally gave up on entirely.  Now THAT'S a box-set whose design (even absent the "rust" factor), always seemed absolutely bat-shit insane. :wacko:  Those individual CD sleeves, all attached at the corner with that one divot (if I'm remembering correctly), was about 10x worst than the Miles metal-spine boxes.

I'm not in love with the Miles metal-spine boxes, but my issue with them is more the impossible-to-read text -- with the Complete In A Silent Way box especially (dark yellow text, on light yellow backgrounds -- and impossibly small text at that!!) -- but even that, I have NOT made any effort to replace.  I *did* however buy individual Mosaic booklets for the LP-versions of a few of those sets (the Miles & Gil box, and (I think?) and the Plugged Nickel set too maybe? And maybe the 65-68 set too? - I can't remember).  I think Mosaic sold the booklets alone for $15 a pop, and I always figured that seemed reasonable, especially when I was adding them to other orders (and not having to pay extra postage).  I kind of wish I had Mosaic booklets for ALL the Miles metal-spine boxes, but given how often I've read the 3(?) I do have, maybe I really don't/didn't need any of them after all.

Edited by Rooster_Ties

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I'm not getting rid of any of my Mosaic sets.  That said, I usually create playlists (or CD-Rs) of the original albums.  In most cases, I'd rather listen to the music as sequenced on the original LPs.  I always find that it's easier to "digest" the music that way.  (Obviously, this doesn't apply to sets with pre-LP era music.) Also, for the most part, I've already traded in music -- on LP or CD -- that was duplicated when I bought the Mosaic sets.  There are few exceptions. But not many.

 

DIGRESSION ALERT! 

I feel like I should stick up a bit for 32 Jazz.  It seems to come in for a lot of stick on the board, and I can understand that to certain extent. Yeah, those plastic boxes are not cool. And, yes, some of the cover art is dreadful. But you've also got to admit that the sound on most 32 Jazz CDs were a BIG improvement over Muse's own CDs.  And in some cases the sound is improved over the original Muse LPs.  One example: I recently bought Pat Martino's Head & Heart, a 32 Jazz 2-disc set compiling two Muse LPs: Consciousness and Live.  I already owned Consciousness (on a Muse CD), but I didn't have Live (in any format), so I plopped for the set.  Just for kicks, I compared the 32 Jazz CD with the Muse CD. No comparison. Sound-wise, the 32 Jazz CD thrashed the Muse CD. I've found this to be consistently true. Muse CDs generally don't sound very good. 

Turning back to the issue of cover art: I would argue that in some cases, the 32 Jazz art is an improvement on the original. Muse didn't have an Andy Warhol or Reid Miles like Blue Note did. They didn't have any photographers like Francis Wolff. Most of the time, Muse LP covers were merely functional; often they were boring; some were flat-out bad. So it's not like 32 Jazz CDs were replacing innovative, top-shelf graphic design with something worse.

A couple examples comes to mind.  Which of these is more impressive? 

The original Muse LP?

 R-2203259-1318100341.jpeg.jpg

Or this 32 Jazz reissue?

Lockjaw_HeavyHitter_32Jazz.png

Speaking of Woody Shaw, here's one of my favorites.  Is this Muse cover "art" really that much better than the 32 Jazz version?

R-5862939-1495842019-2965.jpeg.jpg

This is boring, really dull. And the fonts don't match -- either from a color or design perspective.

R-8379955-1460476156-5420.jpeg.jpg

This is overly cluttered and busy.  And what's the deal with the table???  But at least there's some color and font consistency -- unlike the (orange and pink?!?!) text on the Muse cover.

One last point and I'll stop beating this already dead horse: 32 Jazz filled an important void. Denon/Savoy, who now owns most of the Muse catalog, will likely never release this music on CD. And the only music that they've made available as downloads is the music that 32 Jazz first released on CD. (And talk about dreadful art: Have you seen Savoy's "art" for their Muse downloads! Ugh.) The Muse catalog is full of IMPORTANT music that deserves to be heard -- and not just music by Woody Shaw (whose Muse recordings happen to be the ONLY ones Mosaic has chosen to reissue). If it weren't for 32 Jazz then it would be MUCH MORE difficult for people to hear this music. Anyone without a turntable would be out of luck -- and that would be a shame. So I'm grateful to 32 Jazz for everything they did. I only wished the company would've lasted longer and been able to reissue more.  

O.K. That's it. Didn't mean to hijack the thread, and I hope it wasn't too rant-y. ;) 

 

Edited by HutchFan

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The Mosaics you want to keep and the ones you want to get rid of is very subjective, to state the obvious.  I've sold a Mosaic that I later bought back (not from the same buyer, though).  There are some I bought on a whim and they didn't do much for me so I sold them.  However, for the most part I'm keeping most of the ones I purchased.  

The Mosaics you want to keep and the ones you want to get rid of is very subjective, to state the obvious.  I've sold a Mosaic that I later bought back (not from the same buyer, though).  There are some I bought on a whim and they didn't do much for me so I sold them.  However, for the most part I'm keeping most of the ones I purchased.  

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@HutchFan - I have very very mixed feelings on 32jazz.  I agree they sound better than the Muse CD's, and in several cases I replaced Muse CD's with 32jazz CD's.  And they put out some incredibly important reissues, like 'The Free Slave' by Roy Brooks.  OTOH, they did things like reissue nothing by Carlos Garnett except a 40-minute anthology, and they used a third of that 40 minutes on "Taurus Woman".  And they chopped up and used only pieces of other albums that they did not reissue in whole by other important artists like Charles Earland.  And to take "Woody Shaw at the Berliner Jazztage", one of the greatest albums ever made, and just stick it with a pretty unrelated/incompatible Shaw album on something called "Two More Pieces of the Puzzle", just grates on my sensibilities.   Muse was all over the place with their album covers, some were pretty great, some were utterly embarrassing, with gratuitous girly shots etc.  And Shaw's Muse cover of 'The Moontrane' is beautiful, where the 32jazz cover is a monstrosity.

Image result for woody shaw moontrane

Image result for woody shaw moontrane

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Blue Note came out with a complete Herbie Nichols set after the Mosaic went out of print, but the Mosaic is a treasure for the booklet with Roswell Rudd's notes.
 

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As is the Cecil - Neidlinger Mosaic, for Buell Neidlinger's notes. (Not sure if all of that has been reissued elsewhere, but certainly most of it has.)

Edited by paul secor

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9 minutes ago, jeffcrom said:

Blue Note came out with a complete Herbie Nichols set after the Mosaic went out of print, but the Mosaic is a treasure for the booklet with Roswell Rudd's notes.
 

Also with Ike Quebec and Green/Clark 2CD sets that duplicate the content of the Mosaics.  In all three cases, I sold off the Mosaics and bought the BN's.  

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3 hours ago, felser said:

And to take "Woody Shaw at the Berliner Jazztage", one of the greatest albums ever made, and just stick it with a pretty unrelated/incompatible Shaw album on something called "Two More Pieces of the Puzzle", just grates on my sensibilities.   

I own something like 12(?) legitimately released (non-bootleg) *live* Woody Shaw CD's (every last live Woody Shaw release that's ever been, far as I know) -- a few of which are among THE best live jazz items in my entire 3,000 CD collection...

And THE very best (one), among the very best of all the greatest live Woody Shaw dates, is "Berliner Jazztage". If it were or had ever been available as a decent, single-disc domestic release that was reasonably priced, I'm certain I would have bought and given away 20 copies by now, as a sort of 'jazz calling card' mine [something I've done with a few other beloved titles over the years]. "Here, you should listen to this - and might love this phenomenon live album by Woody Shaw -- with an incredible soloing, damn fine arranging, a top-notch slightly expanded group, all playing some really wonderful tunes.  It's nothing short of sublime, and it's yours to keep if you like it."

Grinds my gears to this day that there has *never* been such a release of "Berliner Jazztage" that's EVER been available on CD.  One of THE best live jazz albums EVER (imho), and who even knows about it?? - other than plenty of folks who are probably nearly all already Woody Shaw converts.

Yeah, it bugs me too.

Edited by Rooster_Ties

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46 minutes ago, felser said:

Also with Ike Quebec and Green/Clark 2CD sets that duplicate the content of the Mosaics.  In all three cases, I sold off the Mosaics and bought the BN's.  

I have the BN Grant set but recently bought the Mosaic. 

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3 hours ago, felser said:

@HutchFan  Shaw's Muse cover of 'The Moontrane' is beautiful, where the 32jazz cover is a monstrosity.

Image result for woody shaw moontrane

Image result for woody shaw moontrane

You'll get no argument from me on that one. I think the original Muse Moontrane cover is one of their very best.

OTOH, the first Woody Shaw CD I ever bought and heard was the 32 Jazz Moontrane. After hearing it, I ran out and got Little Red's Fantasy (also on 32 Jazz).  I'm glad that they were available, regardless of their covers, since they were my gateways into WS's music.

:)

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One of the WORST Muse covers.

Image of The Artistry Of Mark Murphy - 0 of 4

 

This is the Moontrane cover I have on vinyl. The BEST one, IMO. Although the modified version isn't bad, either. The 32 Jazz version ... :huh::o

Image result for woody shaw moontrane

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IMHO, this is the worst Muse cover:

R-4185927-1357946554-9033.png.jpg

Is this some sort of attempt to be "artistic"???

 

This Hank Jones cover is awful too:

R-4691425-1381777827-4679.jpeg.jpg

BTW, this music is OUTSTANDING -- even though the cover is practically shouting, "We couldn't care less."

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I'm more bugged by this sort of exploito album cover.  And Muse did a LOT of them in the 80's/90's.

Image result for philip harper soulful sin

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Let me add to the chorus of 32 jazz at the very least making these Shaw cds available. Some beautiful inspired music was revealed to me. 

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This one on Muse always gives me palpatations (nice album though)

91BdTMPKfLL._SX355_.jpg

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34 minutes ago, sidewinder said:

This one on Muse always gives me palpatations (nice album though)

91BdTMPKfLL._SX355_.jpg

Well, at least it's not called "Hung". :)

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I hold a seemingly unshakable belief that might be stated "Mosaic is preferable."  When so moved, I will argue about the contextualization of the music, the booklets, and the care that goes into a Mosaic set.  I recognize that this confidence does not always withstand scrutiny...this thread has caused me to further question my faith (as it were).

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12 minutes ago, Jim Duckworth said:

I hold a seemingly unshakable belief that might be stated "Mosaic is preferable."  When so moved, I will argue about the contextualization of the music, the booklets, and the care that goes into a Mosaic set.  I recognize that this confidence does not always withstand scrutiny...this thread has caused me to further question my faith (as it were).

Jim, a lot of it is subjective.  I can see where the Mosaics may be greatly preferable for people with different aesthetics, larger incomes, larger houses, and differently listening habits (80-90% of my listening occurs at work, I port CD's around) than me.  Mosaics are great for what they are, just not my thing for different reasons.

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28 minutes ago, felser said:

Jim, a lot of it is subjective.  I can see where the Mosaics may be greatly preferable for people with different aesthetics, larger incomes, larger houses, and differently listening habits (80-90% of my listening occurs at work, I port CD's around) than me.  Mosaics are great for what they are, just not my thing for different reasons.

I once visited the "record room" attic of a VERY long-time jazz record collector (and part-time record trader) who must have had (at that time - c. 2002 or so) about every Mosaic box set ever released - all of them lined up in a rack covering part of the wall on that room. A DEPRESSING sight in its uniform blackness. Almost the same impression for the array of Mosaics that were lined up for "display" one next to another with the fronts of the boxes facing the room. Too much of an aesthetically minimalistic thing in one place ...

Not my aesthetics either. So whatever limited number of Mosaic I ever bought, it most definitely was not for the visual appeal of the object. For some reason I would not even qualify their visual impact as "stark" - it's different again ...

Edited by Big Beat Steve

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31 minutes ago, Big Beat Steve said:

I once visited the "record room" attic of a VERY long-time jazz record collector (and part-time record trader) who must have had (at that time - c. 2002 or so) about every Mosaic box set ever released - all of them lined up in a rack covering part of the wall on that room. A DEPRESSING sight in its uniform blackness. Almost the same impression for the array of Mosaics that were lined up for "display" one next to another with the fronts of the boxes facing the room. Too much of an aesthetically minimalistic thing in one place ...

Not my aesthetics either. So whatever limited number of Mosaic I ever bought, it most definitely was not for the visual appeal of the object. For some reason I would not even qualify their visual impact as "stark" - it's different again ...

I agree, Steve. I have 14 Mosaic boxes lined up on top of a bookcase, with Grover Washington Jr's 'Soul box' next to them and they make a black block about 15 inches wide.

But I can see what was driving that design; Francis Woolf's b&w photos. Can't put those on the front of a yellow, orange, green or any other coloured box. And - for the early Mosaics at lease, those photos were truly demanded for the fronts. Of course, Francis DID take coloured photos, but not in the early days, which is where the early Mosaics came from.

They didn't have the same rationale for material from other labels, however, but they stuck to it as if it were a trademark, whereas it was only a trademark for a period in one label's issues. I think that was regrettable, but there you are.

I do like the Mosaic concept of pulling everything from a period together. One has to hear the rubbish along with the magnificent stuff to get a true feel for what a player was like at that period. Trouble is, Mosaic missed too much stuff because of the rubbish. Where's the Lionel Hampton Decca box? Or the Erskine Hawkins one? Or Lucky Millinder? Or Buddy Johnson? Or Illinois Jacquet? Or Mills Blue Rhythm Band? Or Fats Waller?

Others have done some of this stuff - usually pretty unsatisfactorily. Oh well, take what you can get.

MG

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MG - Mosaic did do an Illinois Jacquet box (a good one).

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