Thank you, Matt. A few clarifications, if you don't mind:
In terms of scope, it wasn't simply "a matter of waiting for LC to work their way through the pile." Remember that LC's audio collections number nearly 3 million items, and the VOA Collection alone includes more than 50,000 tapes and discs. VOA is just one of many important collections that we are dealing with, some much larger and more problematic. You can imagine the task at hand.
I also don't think it's entirely accurate to say that because of the quality of recording and performance there was "no problem at all" securing the permissions for release. The back story on the negotiations is a fascinating one, but I'll leave it to the principles to discuss if they choose to. Michael Gray from VOA can weigh in on whatever paperwork or releases might exist from that night, but it's worth noting that neither LC nor VOA retain rights to these recordings. The Monk Estate ordered from us a reference copy of the quartet sets that night, and the negotiations for release were between the attorney for the Monk Estate and various record labels. I'm sure there was also an arrangement reached with the Coltrane Estate and the estates of the other sidemen, as well as with the labels to which Monk and Coltrane were signed in 1957 (Riverside and Prestige).
Regarding the "myths," you cite, it's true that Lewis Porter and David Wild (and possibly others) had been searching for these tapes for years. They deserve credit for starting the hunt. Porter has told me that he checked with my LC colleagues repeatedly, but the tapes could not be found, presumably because that part of the collection hadn't been properly processed, cataloged or preserved. And of course until now, no one knew the title of these tapes (Sp. Event Carnegie Hall Jazz), which made a search even more difficult.
As any researcher or archivist knows, without accompanying paperwork there was no way to know how much of the performance that night might have actually been recorded. For example, it turns out Billie Holiday's two sets were not recorded, perhaps due to her manager's (or label's) withholding of permission. And in cases like this when recordings were made, there's no way to know whether tapes made 48 years ago actually made it here or survived intact. So, needless to say we all hoped that we'd eventually find these tapes and we were confident that if they were here, they'd turn up as we systematically go through the collection.
And as Matt points out, this discovery reminds us why it's important to not just acquire collections, but to catalog, preserve and provide access to them.
Supervisor/Senior Studio Engineer
Magnetic Recording Lab
Motion Picture, Broadcasting & Recorded Sound Division
Library of Congress
Washington D.C. 20540-4696
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