JSngry

What Airshots Are There From The Grand Terrace Cafe?

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Picked up a CD of two Fletcher Henderson airshots from the Grand Terrace, 1938, NBC. I'm struck by how clear the recording is and how detailed the rhythm section is picked up (and with people such as Israel Crosby & Lawrence Lucey, the details are delicious, as is the ability to hear Pete Suggs' brushwork at all).

Wondering if this level of clarity was a characteristic of the Grand Terrace setup, the local NBC engineer's acumen, some combination of the two, or what. Would like to hear other Grand Terrace airshots of similar music from about the same time to compare.

What all is out there to he had?

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That's something I've always wondered about -- the relative dearth of Chicago airchecks, compared to New York and even Boston.  Given that Chicago was a very important broadcasting centre for dramas, soap operas, etc. there isn't much music documented.  I'm now wondering if I have ever heard the Earl Hines band from the Grand Terrace, though there must be something out there.

As to Chicago recordings, Ellington especially liked the RCA studios there, and did wonderful sides there.

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Posted (edited)

3 hours ago, Ted O'Reilly said:

That's something I've always wondered about -- the relative dearth of Chicago airchecks, compared to New York and even Boston.  Given that Chicago was a very important broadcasting centre for dramas, soap operas, etc. there isn't much music documented.  I'm now wondering if I have ever heard the Earl Hines band from the Grand Terrace, though there must be something out there.

According to Bruyninckx, there is a released airshot of the Earl Hines band from the Grand Terrace recorded on Aug. 3, 1938, and pressed on Alamac QSR2418, Jazz Panorama LP19 and Swing Classics ET5.

Edited by Big Beat Steve

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There are several air checks of Ellington from the Hotel ShermanChicago. 

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1 hour ago, medjuck said:

There are several air checks of Ellington from the Hotel ShermanChicago. 

were they from/through NBC, like the Henderson?

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2 hours ago, medjuck said:

There are several air checks of Ellington from the Hotel ShermanChicago. 

There are air checks of other groups as well from the Panther Room in the Hotel Sherman.  Bud Freeman and His Summa Cum Laude Orchestra, for example, comes to mind.

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4 hours ago, JSngry said:

were they from/through NBC, like the Henderson?

In '42 they were broadcast by NBC. 

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Excellent, thanks! I wonder if they had the same crew there that they did at the Grand Terrace in 1938.

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10 minutes ago, JSngry said:

Excellent, thanks! I wonder if they had the same crew there that they did at the Grand Terrace in 1938.

NBC and RCA were the same company at that time.

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Ah, that's right. So the Henderson 1938 Grand Terrace broadcast was likely facilitated by RCA studio staff? Or what, did NBC have a big radio presence in Chicago?

Just wondering, because these airshots are really vivid. I'm wondering were they actual broadcasts or maybe recorded live for transcription purposes (am I saying that right?). In other words are these technically "airshots" at all?

I HATE YouTube sound...but even here, Israel Crosby!

 

Those drums are poppin'!

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There are also some wonderful sides of Ella Fitzgerald, with Chick Webb's band, from the Grand Terrace from September of '39, three months after Chick's death. They've been released on two CDs (with, magically, no overlap!): "In the Groove" (Buddha) and "Live at the Savoy 1939-1940 (HEP). Both also contain airshots from the Savoy and from the Roseland in NYC, and both are very much worth having.

The Henderson sides are real airshots, off the wire, rather than transcriptions, I believe, but I'm going off memory here. I seem to recall you can hear the audience in some of them, albeit it faintly.

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Posted (edited)

37 minutes ago, lipi said:

 

The Henderson sides are real airshots, off the wire, rather than transcriptions, I believe, but I'm going off memory here. I seem to recall you can hear the audience in some of them, albeit it faintly.

Could you explain the difference please.  I guess you mean "transcriptions" were made at the club itself and "airshots" were taken at a remotes place having been sent over telephone wires-- which apparently Savory did for a living.)

Edited by medjuck

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you do hear the audience, but it could still be a live location recording, no?

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I suppose you could have live transcription recordings... Most (all?) of the ones I've seen explicitly labelled "transcription" don't have an audience or anything else apart from a rare announcement, and that usually from the band leader. They're made in a studio.

I honestly never considered that someone might plonk a recorder in a live club to make recordings for later radio play. It seems like an exercise in extreme frustration in the pre-tape era, but what do I know? You're right that it's certainly possible! (Also I'm anything but an expert in this area, so don't take anything I say as gospel.)

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The counter-argument to that, though, is that there's no break in the sound, it's seamless, straight through the entire set.

I don't know what they did, but it sounds fantastic.

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9 hours ago, JSngry said:

The counter-argument to that, though, is that there's no break in the sound, it's seamless, straight through the entire set.

I don't know what they did, but it sounds fantastic.

Total agreement with both statements.

So I dug up my copy of the Henderson CD, and the liner notes explicitly say air check (as you already implied), but who knows how careful Leif Anderson was with his words when he wrote these notes. I also looked through Walter Allen's wonderful "Hendersonia". The 1973 book predates the discovery of these recordings by 20 years (in fact, on page 356, he mentions there are rumours of existing air checks, but that only one has turned up so far), but it does confirm that Henderson was on the wire (NBC Red Wed & Sat at midnight, and the other days at 12:30 AM, and NBC Blue at 11:30 PM every night but Wed & Sat). I will adduce this for my claim that they're likely off-the-wire, but it proves absolutely nothing, of course, except perhaps that we're jazz nerds and can be obsessive about this stuff!

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1 minute ago, lipi said:

...it does confirm that Henderson was on the wire (NBC Red Wed & Sat at midnight, and the other days at 12:30 AM, and NBC Blue at 11:30 PM every night but Wed & Sat)...

That would perhaps account for the two different announcers. One guy is a bit relaxed, the other one not so much (although he does manage to say something like "and now, through the magic carpet of radio" with complete seriousness).

Interesting to me is that both announcers refer to Fletcher Henderson as "the King Of Swing". That also got my attention.

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