I've already recommended Rob Bamberger's radio presentation, audible 
through today on   I do so again.

Davies wasn't able to access original pressings in a number of cases; Doug 
Bension and Dave Sager combed the known universe for the best copies they 
could find, made speed adjustments, and used a number of stylus tips  . 
The originals aren't transferred so much as transformed.  Their Off the 
Record  production makes the Retrieval set  and other reissues obsolete. 
Really!  I've even endorsed the cd in the notes, so I have no hesitation 
in shilling for it again.


Don Cox <[log in to unmask]> 
Sent by: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
06/02/2007 06:09 AM
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Re: [ARSCLIST] King Oliver/Louis Armstrong Gennett recordings

On 01/06/07, Tom Fine wrote:

> Was anyone ever able to use digital tools and make those recordings
> anything approaching decent sounding? All I have is the Book of the
> Month Club reissue of the the Milestone LP produced by Orrin Keepnews
> and remastered for BOMC at Fantasy in 1974. The sound quality is so
> poor that I consider it unlistenable. I understand the limitations of
> the original source material but wonder if any digi-magic was later
> invented that improved the listening experience at all?

I suggest "King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band - The Complete Set", a 2 CD
set on the Retrieval label. (RTR 79007).

These transfers by John R T Davies are probably as good as we are going
to get. I think the crucial part of the process happens at the analog
stage, in the choice of turntable, stylus size, playback speed and
pre-amp. No amount of digital processing will help if the initial
transfer is sub-standard.

Played through good equipment, I find these transfers to be
definitely listenable, although not of course as good as electrical
recordings from a few years later. 

I think the main problem with these and similar recordings is an effect
like limiting. Somehow the acoustic process seems to reduce the dynamic
range above a certain level. Possibly processing with a limiter set to
expand would help - it would need some experimentation. Often it is
better to leave the sound alone and let your brain do the processing.

> The awful-sounding Gennett records were made in 1923. Just 2 years
> later, Okeh made some decent-sounding Armstrong Hot Fives records in
> Chicago. I have those on a Columbia reissue LP "The Louis Armstrong
> Story Vol 1", I seem to have a very late (70s) pressing of this
> record, which the notes indicate was issued at the dawn of the LP era,
> so back in the late 40's the Columbia engineers must have done
> disk-to-disk transfers, I would guess from Okeh metal parts.

Those are electrical recordings. There was an enormous improvement in
quality when electrical recording replaced acoustic. 

Again, the best transfers are those by JRT Davies. They are in a bargain
4-CD box on the JSP label. Sony have a similar box but it is not as

Don Cox
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