Mark Stryker

Old Testament Basie: filling gaps

34 posts in this topic

OK, I've come to realize just how much pre-war Basie material there is that appears to have fallen through the cracks of what I have. This has led to some ruminating and some questions about how to fill in the gaps without too much duplication and questions about sound quality on various options..

Here's what I have:

Decca: The complete Deccas on the 3-CD set on GRP -- not great sound, though not the worst considering the early '90s noise reduction.

Columbia and related labels: The 4-CD box "America's #1 Band," plus the two-LP set "Super Chief,"  the Mosaic Lester Young/Basie box and the complete run of the "Lester Young Story" 2 LP sets on Columba that include Basie material.

1. First, can anyone vouch for the sound of the LPs on the Italian label called Queen? I saw a small handful of them today for not much money and a couple at least would fill in some holes c. 1940-42.

2. Any recommendations for getting the Deccas in better sound on CD or LP?

3. Any recommendations on the best way to fill out the Columbia material? Is the best approach is to pick up the Chronological Classics when I can find them (which I suppose would also fix my Decca issue) or is there another approach on CD or LP that I'm not aware of that might get me everything I have and want in better sound?  

 

 

 

,"

 

 

 

 

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The Mosaic Savory set. 

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6 hours ago, Mark Stryker said:

1. First, can anyone vouch for the sound of the LPs on the Italian label called Queen? I saw a small handful of them today for not much money and a couple at least would fill in some holes c. 1940-42.

3. Any recommendations on the best way to fill out the Columbia material? Is the best approach is to pick up the Chronological Classics when I can find them (which I suppose would also fix my Decca issue) or is there another approach on CD or LP that I'm not aware of that might get me everything I have and want in better sound? 

Trying to comment on where I THINK I can add something:

1) The music of the broadcasts, airshots, live recordings (made with whatever less-than-perfect equipment at the time) on the QUeen-Disc label usually is very rare and of course fidelity isn't always tops. But I'd attribute this for the most part to the typical sound quality of 40s airshots, and that's what you are likely to get with most 70/80s vinyl reissues of such on-location recordings from that period. Personally I STILL find it very listenable and enjoyable, e.g. the airshots on Queen-Disc 025 by the Basie band I am listening to right now.
Besides, considering how everyone fell all over each other in that recent discussion of that unheard Miles-Coltrane live recording of 1960 here the other day (that went for a high sum on eBay) despite the rough sound this really CANNOT be such a big issue if you are in it for the MUSIC. (I cannot see why a 1960 recording should be cut more lo-fi slack than one from way back in the early to mid-40s anyway, even if it is for St. Miles and St. Trane ;))
So if it is just because the opportunity is there that you are focusing on Queen-Disc, I'd say - grab them if you really are on a Basie kick (I know I would). Even if these airshots aren't always hi-fi, these live versions of the Basie repertoireoften are even looser and more freewheeling than the studio recordings (great as these are). Beyond this, plenty of live recordings by the Basie band from the 40s have been released on vinyl - mostly collector labels from the UK, France, Italy, Sweden, and also some Boris-Rose-lookalike (and soundalike?) labels such as Caracol. I have quite a handful of them but looking at the discography (which is a science unto itself to sort out in this respect, particularly the overlaps) I feel this is just the tip the iceberg. So much for "filling gaps". ;)

2) The best way I have found to complete the Columbia period of the Basie band in ONE single rush without duplication and going to and fro is the series of 6 double LPs reissued on (French) CBS in their "Jazzotheque" series in the mid-80s (CBS 88667, 88668, 88672, 88673, 88674, 88675). Presentation and sound are nothing to complain about IMO. They should still be around secondhand.
There also was a 10-LP CBS box of the complete Columbia recordings by the Basie band which is fairly spartan in presentation (at least the copy I once saw). I have not checked its differences in content vs. the six-twofer series, though

Enjoy your hunting!


 

Edited by Big Beat Steve

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2 hours ago, Big Beat Steve said:

Trying to comment on where I THINK I can add something:

1) The music of the broadcasts, airshots, live recordings (made with whatever less-than-perfect equipment at the time) on the QUeen-Disc label usually is very rare and of course fidelity isn't always tops. But I'd attribute this for the most part to the typical sound quality of 40s airshots, and that's what you are likely to get with most 70/80s vinyl reissues of such on-location recordings from that period. Personally I STILL find it very listenable and enjoyable, e.g. the airshots on Queen-Disc 025 by the Basie band I am listening to right now.
Besides, considering how everyone fell all over each other in that recent discussion of that unheard Miles-Coltrane live recording of 1960 here the other day (that went for a high sum on eBay) despite the rough sound this really CANNOT be such a big issue if you are in it for the MUSIC. (I cannot see why a 1960 recording should be cut more lo-fi slack than one from way back in the early to mid-40s anyway, even if it is for St. Miles and St. Trane ;))
So if it is just because the opportunity is there that you are focusing on Queen-Disc, I'd say - grab them if you really are on a Basie kick (I know I would). Even if these airshots aren't always hi-fi, these live versions of the Basie repertoireoften are even looser and more freewheeling than the studio recordings (great as these are). Beyond this, plenty of live recordings by the Basie band from the 40s have been released on vinyl - mostly collector labels from the UK, France, Italy, Sweden, and also some Boris-Rose-lookalike (and soundalike?) labels such as Caracol. I have quite a handful of them but looking at the discography (which is a science unto itself to sort out in this respect, particularly the overlaps) I feel this is just the tip the iceberg. So much for "filling gaps". ;)

2) The best way I have found to complete the Columbia period of the Basie band in ONE single rush without duplication and going to and fro is the series of 6 double LPs reissued on (French) CBS in their "Jazzotheque" series in the mid-80s (CBS 88667, 88668, 88672, 88673, 88674, 88675). Presentation and sound are nothing to complain about IMO. They should still be around secondhand.
There also was a 10-LP CBS box of the complete Columbia recordings by the Basie band which is fairly spartan in presentation (at least the copy I once saw). I have not checked its differences in content vs. the six-twofer series, though

Enjoy your hunting!


 

This is extremely helpful, thanks.

A quick follow up — is in fact the Queen material all or mostly broadcast recordings. Some appeared to be studio as I checked against discographies and YouTube, but it’s confusing when you get into the weeds.

In terms of sound, I’m mostly interested in avoiding inferior digital transfers (CDs) or fake stereo or otherwise truly awful pressing (LPs). Normal bootleg sound for broadcast material is not a problem and I’m cool with just decent studio sound if it’s getting me material I don’t have. 

 

 

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I searched archive.org for Basie on Columbia and came back with this: https://archive.org/details/audio?and%5B%5D=count+basie+columbia&sin=

Not exactly what you may be looking for, but it may be an opportunity to comb through various CDs/LPs and check for SQ. 

Searching for Decca and I found this: https://archive.org/details/audio?and%5B%5D=count+basie+decca&sin=

Looks like a lot of 78 transfers, which may beat GRP. I think you can download these and make your own CD-R if necessary. 

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No ideas on how to complete it, but what I have of the RCA stuff is pretty interesting in a "transitional" type of way that is maybe no adequately looked at in critical evaluations...the New Testament sound did not arise out of nowhere.

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The Decca material is included in the Young/Basie Mosaic set of a couple years back.

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18 minutes ago, JSngry said:

No ideas on how to complete it, but what I have of the RCA stuff is pretty interesting in a "transitional" type of way that is maybe no adequately looked at in critical evaluations...the New Testament sound did not arise out of nowhere.

As LPs do seem an option, the best bet (except for 2 vocals IIRC which are scattered somewhere else in the series) to complete the RCA recordings of Count Basie without overlaps and duplicates IMO would be the three LPs reissued in the "Black & White" series on French RCA (Vols. 4, 15 and 53 of that B&W series).

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Complete (I assume!) on Columbia:

Vols 1-10, 1936-1941: https://www.discogs.com/Count-Basie-The-Complete-Count-Basie-Vol-1-To-10-1936-1941/release/5689548
Vols 11-20, 1941-1951: https://www.discogs.com/Count-Basie-The-Complete-Count-Basie-Vol-11-To-20-1941-1951/release/10553541

"Spartan" is accurate, there's a paper sheet of four pages included (twice 12x12 inch) with a few photos, line-ups, tracklists (incl. master nos.) and info on original issues (I guess, there's either just one issue mentioned or there's the remark "Okeh/Columbia unissued master". Arrangers and vocalists are listed by track (though arranger info is incomplete - not sure all track without it are head arrangements, possibly so).

I guess this is not the best way to listen to the music (I've got the Chronos for that, but I miss one or two, I think, and never got around to buying all the Neatwork discs with the alternate takes), for instance Vol. XVIII Side B has six takes of "Wild Bill's Boogie" (arr. Buster Harding) and then "Fla-Ga-La-Pa", a vocal by Ann Moore. And yes, as the dates 1936 and 1951 indicate, these boxes included the small group stuff (Jones-Smith Inc. from 1936; octet from 1950, as well as the first 1951 date by kind of a pre-NT band - the Octet is complete - not sure about alternates? - in the "America's No. 1 Band" set, and the 1951 big band date is included, too - again not sure if all four masters are present, the LP box includes just master takes for this final session).

Vol. 11 btw. opens with "Feedin' the Bean" from April 10, 1941, a session covered in the first box, but "recently turned up").

--

For RCA, I'm also sticking to the Definitive set I bought some 20 years ago ... there was a superior Japanese edition though:

R-15146556-1587326425-9923.jpeg.jpg

https://www.discogs.com/Count-Basie-RCA-Years-In-Complete/release/15146556

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Yes, I stand corrected ... It is these 3-CD sets that provide a complete set. Although announced as being "complete" in the liner notes, the 3 LPs in the French RCA Black &White series skipped not just one or two tracks (notably Open The Door Richard) but quite a few vocal numbers more. So it depends on availability (and the "essential" - or not - character of the tracks missing on the LPs) which reissue one would go for.

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22 hours ago, Chuck Nessa said:

The Decca material is included in the Young/Basie Mosaic set of a couple years back.

Yes, the improvement in sound quality from the Decca set is HUGE.   Alternatively, HEP was the first label to issue the Decca recordings digitally in outstanding sound.  

I bought the Masters of Jazz series when it came out, so much extraordinary live Basie from the 30s.  

Edited by John L

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The Mosaic has far and away the best sound on the pre-war Basie Columbias with Young, but he left in 1941 to be replaced by Don Byas. The easiest way to get all those is with the Definitive sets, but, well, objections to that particular label have been amply discussed here. If you want to avoid that label, you can go with the Classics issues, but they can be spendy to acquire. I've been on something of a crusade to round up all the available pre-war airchecks lately. They're spread out all over the place. Recently got the Chatterbox things, but the sound is pretty bad on those. The Savory material is absolutely essential, IMHO.

 

 

 

gregmo

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16 hours ago, gmonahan said:

I've been on something of a crusade to round up all the available pre-war airchecks lately. They're spread out all over the place. Recently got the Chatterbox things, but the sound is pretty bad on those. The Savory material is absolutely essential, IMHO.

I'm far from complete on all the 30s live/aircheck material, but yes, there's great stuff there! Chatterbox is the pre-Freddie Green ones, with Claude "Fiddler" Williams (who does actually play some violin, though it sounds atrocious due to the bad quality of the recordings).

Another outstanding one is the Famous Door, which is a reason to get the "America's #1 Band" 4-CD-set, as it's included on the fourth disc (along with other live recordings, incl. the one with Billie Holiday).

R-6686559-1470504956-6907.jpeg.jpg

The box also contains the entire output of the 1950/51 small group, which Basie led after he had to dissolve his big band. And it has good liner notes/comments and is nicely presented. Nonetheless I still resent Sony for not doing a full Basie restrospective in 2004 (or let Mosaic do that*), when his double jubilee (1904-1984). 

 

*) on the other hand, the Basie/Young 4-Disc set really is perfect, it's almost excluviely cream of the crop (though not the full cream I'd say, the "#1 Band" set has a few of the finest post-Pres tracks, but still not enough for me)

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I have America's #1 Band, all the Mosaics, The Alternative Takes Series plus the Decca set (for Old Testament Basie) but to complete the gaps & picked up the Past Perfect 10 CD set in the early 2000s - they were going for a song (I think I paid round $15 Aus for the whole set. The material ranges from 1939 to 1951 & covers Okeh/Columbia/RCA-Victor. I know it's not the best of quality but it's on par with the classics series (I think the CDs in the box duplicate to a large extent the Classics releases). Also "The Alternative Takes" series by the Austrian Neatwork label, 6 volumes running from 1936 to 1952 - these actually complement the French Classics series (actually mentions that on the CD slicks)

Basie Past Perfect.jpg

I always hoped for a Basie Columbia/Okeh Mosaic but I think it would have been too large - there was talk about a few years back here

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I once had the two 10-LP boxes from CBS France but found it a bit too much of a good thing with its many alternates takes. Of course you want all the takes with Pres, but after he left .... I now have both the Mosaic boxes as well as the Columbia set King Ubu posted, and that seems to be right for me. I had the RCA set but it left me cold.

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Here is a list of what I have on CD by Pre- 1950 Basie.

1936-1938 - Classics 503

1939 - Classics 513

1939 Vol.2 - Classics 533

1939-1940 - Classics 563

1940-1941 - Classics 623

1941 - Classics 652

1942 - Classics 684

1943-1945 - Classics 801

1945-1946 - Classics 934

America's #1 Band - The Columbia Years - Columbia/Legacy 512892 2 (4 CDs)

At The Royal Roost 1948 - Drive DE2-41096

Listen..You Shall Hear - 1937 - Hep 1025

Do You Wanna Jump...? - 1938 - Hep 1027

Basie Rhythm - 1936, 1937, 1939 - Hep 1032

The Jubilee Alternatives - 1943 -1944 - Hep 38

Avenue C - Live 1944 - Jazz & Jazz 604

 

Rock-A-Bye Basie Live in "38 & '39 - VJC 1033

Beaver Junction (Legendary V Disc and Jubilee Masters)  1944 - VJC 1018 2

The Golden Years Vol.1 1937 - EPM FDC 5502

The Golden Years Vol.1 1938 - EPM FDC 5510

The Golden Years Vol.3 1940/44 - EPM FDC 5521

The Golden Years Vol.4 1944/45 The V-Discs - EPM FDC 5522

Live 1938 At The Famous Door - Jazz Hour 3003

1944 - Hindsight 224

Cafe Society Uptown, 1941 - Jazz Unlimited 2006/07 (2 CDs)

Brand New Wagon 1947 - RCA Bluebird 2292-2-RB

Shoutin" Blues 1949 - RCA Bluebird 66158-2

 

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I have the 3-CD set on GRP and the 4-CD box "America's #1 Band".  What should be the next purchase, without repeating much material I already have?

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No idea where the broadcasts are now, or if they've been bundled at all, but that is definitely where to go next. There's a relative buttload, and many are magic.

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Posted (edited)

4 hours ago, bluesbro said:

I have the 3-CD set on GRP and the 4-CD box "America's #1 Band".  What should be the next purchase, without repeating much material I already have?

I'd go for the Savory Collection on Mosaic before it runs out.  You'll  only get 2 cds of Basie (with Prez),  but the other 4 cds contain great stuff too.  None of it is available elsewhere.

Edited by medjuck

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Find the 1943 airshots with Pres back in the band for a quick minute..i guess look for this lp?

R-3203384-1320338006.jpeg.jpg

 

R-11778212-1522228721-7351.jpeg.jpg

There's more of this type thing out there, but i have no idea where it all is...

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1 hour ago, JSngry said:

R-11778212-1522228721-7351.jpeg.jpg

There's more of this type thing out there, but i have no idea where it all is...

I think that was my first-ever CD of the Basie band live--though as Captain Howdy notes the sound is rough, I'm still quite partial to it.

Too bad the set of 1944 broadcasts with Prez that Uptown (I think?) was supposedly preparing never came to pass.  I know a couple of astute people who are familiar with said broadcasts have intimated that the performances are rather rote, apparently, but I'd still be happy to hear more of that band, less inspired or not. 

And Joe Medjuck is spot-on about the value of those Basie sides in Mosaic's Savory set.

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Posted (edited)

1 hour ago, Captain Howdy said:

The funny thing about the broadcasts is that often there's some (tipsy?) female in the background providing unofficial commentary on the performance. I can never quite make out what she's saying.

Is that a woman? I once asked on this board and someone suggested it was Jimmy Rushing reacting to, and urging on, the band.   (We may not be talking about the same thing.) 

Edited by medjuck

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8 hours ago, ghost of miles said:

Too bad the set of 1944 broadcasts with Prez that Uptown (I think?) was supposedly preparing never came to pass.  I know a couple of astute people who are familiar with said broadcasts have intimated that the performances are rather rote, apparently, but I'd still be happy to hear more of that band, less inspired or not. 

I don't know which broadcasts these are, but the ones on the Everybody's LP I showed above are quite elevating. And sorry, I'm saying 1943, should be 1944. But yes, extremely elevational music. Maybe it was a good night, but if so, it was a damn good night. Check it out, copies are still available at quite reasonable prices, and not also the documentation of the transition form Jo Jones to Shadow Wilson:

719o7ruiEDL._SL1200_.jpg

But there are airshots aplenty from earlier, from 1938-ish, here's one:

https://www.amazon.com/Count-Basie-Live-1938-Famous/dp/B0011D9O2K

there are surely others...I had a friend collate them all of which they were aware, and it's like, 3 full CDs worth. Sound quality does indeed vary, but hell, it's never so bad that the shit don't do what it do.

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