History of CBS Records 30th Street Studio NYC (many pictures)

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by DMortensen, Oct 21, 2014.

  1. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    I thought that at first, too, but I *think* they are similar but different medallions. One is simple, the other has some kind of additional bit on it. Or it's the chain swirling around and the medallions are the same.

    Going to my Flickr page and zooming in and cropping gives

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    I could go either way on the medallions, but I don't think their faces look alike at all. The left one is a smaller part of the overall picture, so we've lost resolution by zooming in. And to reiterate, my pictures don't have the greatest resolution to start with. They are more an index of information rather than a fully detailed representation of the Plaut collection.

    It would make a tidier story if they were the same person, though.
     
  2. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    Perhaps everyone in this thread but me already knows this series, but while searching for info about Don Ellis, the CBS executive and not the trumpeter, I found a reference to his office location in one of a series of articles by Tom Werman, Epic/CBS producer who seemed to work with metal and hair bands (if those are different).

    The series is 9 or 10 years old, but gives a fascinating look at what it was like to work at Black Rock and with those groups. Nothing, of course, about 30th St., although I'm only about halfway through. But I'm not expecting to see anything based on how he's talked so far in my reading.

    You can see it at Tom Werman | Popdose

    I'm enjoying reading it a lot (it's almost book length in all), and hope you do, too. You'll see some CBS names that we've talked and learned about, as well as get an inside look at how things worked in his days.
     
  3. Wingman

    Wingman Bored of the Rings

    Location:
    Europe
    What about Teo Macero's right hand man and illustrious CBS engineer, Stanley Tonkel? He worked with everyone from Miles Davis to Bruce Springsteen and was one of the regular 30th Street engineers for years. Has he ever been interviewed? Maybe he has a personal archive worth looking into?
     
  4. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    He passed away some years ago.

    He did get interviewed by people, but I haven't found anything like what you or I would think was adequate.

    Googling "Stanley Tonkel Interview" gets no exact hits, but some close ones.

    Someone on this forum started a thread about him in 2013 but got no replies. (I didn't see it.)

    This article that talks about the Isle of Wight recordings that Stan did with Teo Macero has a picture of them that I think Jim Reeves got from Stan's family after his death. Stan isn't quoted in it, as near as I can tell from skimming.

    This one about Miles Davis' last years mentions him and then quotes him on page 22, but I didn't see anything else in the 50 pages that I was able to see in the online version (out of over 500), so who knows what else is there.

    And so on.

    Everyone I've talked to says that he was a nice guy, and also about what a good engineer he was. Fred did not take any pictures of him that I could find, so no hope there.
     
  5. crispi

    crispi Vinyl Archaeologist

    Location:
    Berlin
    Definitely not the same person, unless she managed to age 35 years in between those photos.
     
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  6. W.B.

    W.B. The Collector's Collector

    Location:
    New York, NY, USA
    Begs the question as to how many people wore that type of medallion.
     
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  7. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    I don't think the first photo is clear enough to even call it a type.
     
  8. W.B.

    W.B. The Collector's Collector

    Location:
    New York, NY, USA
    May not even be the same medallion.
     
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  9. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    In somewhat related news, as mentioned previously I'll be Chair of the History Track at the NYC AES convention in October. I've been working on that and almost have the track presentations finished (there's only 5 hours of presentation time allotted over the 4 days, so that won't be too much trouble to fill and I'm nearly there). Bob Fine will do Part XX or whatever of his "Commercialization of Stereophony" talk, this time about the mid-50's, I'll do a slightly expanded/adjusted version of my 30th St History, Michael Petterson the Shure Historian will do a presentation about Ben Bauer, the inventor of the first single cardioid microphone element with full frequency response as well as a lot of other innovations, plus a couple other presentations TBD.

    We're also going to show some audio history documentaries on three evenings at a small theater near Times Square; this just firmed up the other day.

    One of them will be "Company", filmed almost entirely inside 30th St., and I'm working now on getting guests to comment during the movie about what we are seeing and giving background about it.

    Another will be something else that I don't want to talk about yet.

    Do you have any ideas for a third? My thoughts so far are:

    -"The Greatest Ears in Town", about Arif Mardin;

    -Classic Tracks "The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds", the bluray with expanded deconstruction of some of the songs;

    - The Tom Dowd movie;

    -The great documentary about Ahmet Ertegun;

    then you start getting into The Wrecking Crew, 20 Feet from Stardom, etc., which are less about audio and more about musicians, not that those are unrelated but that it's an audio convention not specifically a musicians' convention.

    Any ideas, especially any projects that are underway that will be completed by October?
     
  10. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    It's too early to say for sure, but I think you can disregard this post. Something came to me today that, if it works out, is going to be absolutely perfect. That's all I'm going to say, except that I don't doubt it will get its own active thread regardless of whether or not it's part of the Historical Track at the NYC convention.
     
  11. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    Back when we were talking about Paul Tyler Turner (A.K.A. Archbishop Alexander) I sent a note asking about him to the Editor of The Basilian Journal, which "is the academic publication of the Center for Orthodox Thought and Culture at Eastern University. Interdisciplinary in nature, it serves as a heretofore little seen but much needed forum for scholarly reflection and dialogue on myriad aspects of Eastern Orthodox faith, including theology, history, and art. The journal reflects on topics pertinent to Eastern Christendom and examines a range of subjects through the Eastern Christian lens. It is staffed and edited by a board of academics, students, Orthodox clergy, and laity, and is written for a diverse audience of readers interested in intellectual engagement with Orthodoxy."

    Turner's obit in the Electric Railroad Association's newsletter said he had been editor of The Basilian at his death, and the only similarly named publication I could find was The Basilian Journal.

    Day before yesterday this lovely email came back, which I quote in its entirety FYI (I had sent a link to this thread with my inquiry):

    ============================

    Hello Dan,
    My deepest apologies for the delay in my reply. It sounds like a very interesting project that you are working on, and I am very impressed with the research you have conducted so far. Unfortunately, I am sorry to say we will be limited in our ability to help as The Basilian Journal bears no relation to the journal of which Turner was editor. However, it seems fortune favors your little enterprise, because by strange coincidence I am very good friends with the current vicar general of the Antiochian Western Rite (Turner’s old position within the Orthodox Church) and with the bishop who overseas the Western Rite within the Antiochian Archdiocese. I reached out to the two of them and they were able to give me some information on Alexander Turner. I’m not sure how much will be relevant or new for you, but I hope it can be of some small help.

    Firstly, it appears that there are not many left who knew Turner personally. The vicar general could not remember anyone still around for you to reach out to who knew him. What general information I can say about Turner is the following: Turner was a part of a schismatic Orthodox group called the Society of Clerks Secular of St. Basil. Under them Turner founded a parish called St. Sophia in Mount Vernon, NY. Here he also began publishing a periodical entitled Orthodoxy (not The Basilian). When Turner was elected bishop of the Society of St. Basil he brought them back into canonical orthodoxy under the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America. This was done under the Antiochian Metropolitan Anthony Bashir in 1961. The society kept their Western liturgy and became the Western Rite of the Orthodox Archdiocese. Bishop Turner, now Fr. Turner, became the first vicar general of this Rite and served in that position until his death in 1971.

    For the purpose of your project I imagine this info is of little use, but unfortunately I can only speak to Turner’s religious life. Unfortunately, it seems that many possible trails run cold. The publication Orthodoxy went out of print around the time the Society of St. Basil rejoined canonical Orthodoxy, and St. Sophia’s in Mount Vernon unfortunately disbanded many years ago. Neither I, nor the Western Rite leaders I know, could remember any names of people still around who knew Turner.

    There are a few possible leads that can hopefully bring you somewhere. When Turner brought back the Society of St. Basil into canonical Orthodoxy not everyone was supportive of that position. The detractors who refused to follow Turner reformed their group into the Holy Orthodox Church American Jurisdiction which is based in Lexington, Kentucky. You could try reaching out to them as they may have some information on his history. I have no info on how to contact them, but I’m sure you’d be able to reach out somehow. You may also benefit from browsing the historical blog of Fr. Andrew Steven Damick and Mathew Namee. I believe they have conducted research into Turner there.

    Here is a link to that: Matthew Namee, Author at Orthodox History

    You may also glean insight from research conducted by Fr. David Abramtsov. If you google his name along with Western Rite you may find some resources, though this may be a little removed from your specific interests. Lastly, as I said, the actual journal run by Turner, Orthodoxy, has been out of print for roughly half a century, but you may still find copies of it through Harvard or Columbia’ archives.

    As a final note, if you are wondering how Turner relates specifically to 30th St. Studio, I have heard it is because they calibrated their broadcast equipment with Turner’s perfect pitch. Interesting stuff!

    Again, I apologize for the delay in this response. This is partly because I have been waiting to hear back from a friend, a Western Rite priest, who I heard rumors was conducting some research on Turner. Unfortunately, he has not gotten back with me as of yet, but if he ever does, and he tells me anything helpful, I will send it along as well. I wish you God’s strength in your research and I hope that some of my limited information can be of some help.

    Best,
    Seraphim Villabona, Managing Editor
    The Basilian Journal

    =============================================
    I replied:

    Sincere and grateful thanks for this thoughtful summation of what had to be some serious effort by you on my behalf.

    Thank you for the correction on his editorship. Somehow I thought that Orthodoxy morphed into the Basilian, but apparantly not.

    As you say, his religious background is less relevant to my research but it does flesh him out a bit, which is interesting.

    Your comment about his perfect pitch is fascinating and somewhat surprising as you relate it to broadcasting. As you might have seen in my research, there was indeed a radio station in the building before and during the recording studio’s early occupation of it, and if he was somehow connected to the radio station, I don’t doubt that his association could have been church organ -> radio station -> recording company or something like that.

    The organ that was in the Presbyterian Church was notable enough to currently be listed in the American Organists’ Guild webpage even though it had to have been taken out by 1947 (the blueprints of the remodel into the recording studio show “replace wainscot where organ was”), so that’s the thread of his involvement I’ve been looking at.

    The electric train association’s obit of him talks about how he was a tireless volunteer in its early days, and that he would often treat the members to organ concerts after their meetings and sometimes to accompany movies of riding trains. Which implies that they met in a space that was large enough to have an organ as well as the ability to show movies, and the studio space certainly qualified on both counts. I’ve written the train association for more info, but nothing back yet.

    Do you think there would have been an obit in Orthodoxy, or did its publication cease with his death? I’ll try to find out.

    I hope that person gets back to you about the voluminous research he has done about Turner and that it will unveil some of the mystery. The reu.org pdf that I referenced had a comment that when he merged his church with the Antiochans their rules did not permit a married Archbishop, so he had at least a wife and possibly a family. Any hope of finding them? If so, I hope your friend has done so or can send me to them.

    By the way, I found a picture of him with E. Power Biggs, the organist, and in it Turner is smoking a small cigar. So we know that about him.

    Thank you very much for your welcome response; I appreciate you taking the time to write it.

    Best wishes,
    Dan

    End of email quotations.
    ===================================

    I quickly sent an inquiry quoting the above plus my original inquiry to Matthew Namee, who was linked in the editor's reply, and he already replied with thanks for the "fascinating email", but says he's not very familiar with Turner but will ask some friends doing research in the area.

    The trail is not completely cold!

    I think the Electric Railroad Association could provide very relevant information to us, but I don't know how to reach them other than email. And I welcome anyone wanting to pursue any of these leads that don't conflict with my active inquiries, of which you now know the full extent.

    If you do something, please keep the thread informed so we don't duplicate efforts.
     
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  12. Champagne Boot

    Champagne Boot The Passion of the Was

    Location:
    Chicago
    Just FYI, not sure if you know this or not (don't have time to read through all of this), but the Armenian church you reference as including part of this studio is an Armenian Evangelical (Protestant), not Armenian Orthodox church.
     
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  13. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    You're quite right, thank you. That explains why the report on Armenian Orthodoxy that I read didn't include the Armenian Evangelical Church that was in 30th St.

    Sheesh!
     
  14. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    This has been a busy few weeks at work; still in the thick of it but the end is in sight.

    Only one or two developments in the Turner saga: the above-mentioned Matthew Namee asked around but wrote today that he could not find anyone who knew anything about Turner. He is interested in the story, though, and will follow along. And he has a friend who is already part of the forums! Cool, huh?

    He did say that although Turner was an Archbishop, he was leader of an extremely tiny group, and that when he became Orthodox he was only a priest (but I thought that was because he was married, not because his sect was tiny; I'll ask.) I've already asked "how tiny?".

    Relatedly, I just looked at the Electric Railroaders' Association website, and their June meeting is this Friday the 15th at the Roosevelt Hotel in Manhattan, 45th and Madison https://erausa.org/pdf/meetings/2018/2018-06-15-meeting-notice.pdf

    Anyone able to go and ask for old-timers who might know anything about Tyler Turner? Or where they met in the 1940's-50's?

    That seems to be the only trail that isn't completely cold, and the only way to talk to them seems to be the online email, which I've tried, and going to one of their meetings, which I haven't tried.

    In my spare time I've been working on the program for the Historical Track at the Audio Engineering Society Convention in NYC in October, and it's almost complete; with any luck, it will be done next week, or at least I should know if I need to find something else. Should I post about that here or start a new thread? Or is anyone even interested in audio history? :)
     
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  15. ad180

    ad180 Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    Start a new thread and post a link here! Would love to read about it.
     
  16. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    Regarding the church organ that was installed by the Presbyterians and removed by the time of the recording studio, I sent a note to the Organ Guild correcting a bit of their timeline and adding some other information, and also asked about the specialness of the organ. The person in charge of their archives replied that it was nothing special, and would probably have been binned at removal rather than sold and installed somewhere else, since it was old and "old fashioned" with mechanical action rather than electric. He incorporated the info into the listing.

    Adams-Parkhurst Memorial Presbyterian Church - New York City

    Oh, and it still isn't right. The studio was sold and cleaned out in 1981 but demolition wasn't completed until 1982.
     
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  17. charleymud

    charleymud New Member

    Location:
    USA
    Hi all—longtime reader and enthusiast, first time poster. Forgive me if I missed this info on one of the 83 pages, but does anyone know if the Budapest string quartet recordings of Debussy and Ravel string quartets were done at 30th?

    Many thanks and kind regards.
     
  18. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    Sorry to say, I can't answer that exact question very easily at this time. I can say they definitely were in 30th St a bunch of times over the years, but not that they did or didn't do specific material.

    If you had dates of the recordings it's possible I could find it out, although that's not certain, either. But I have no way to search by material.

    Have you tried Michael Gray's database? I bet he has that answer. A Classical Discography
     
  19. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    OK, you got me wondering about this and I searched Michael's database for Ravel, 30th Street Studio, and Budapest String Quartet.

    There is one result, the String Quartet in F major, recorded in 30th St. May 22-24, 1957.

    Changing "Ravel" to "Debussy" also gives one result, the String Quartet in G minor, op. 10, recorded as part of the same run, May 20-22, 1957.

    So, yes, they did record those works there.

    Are there other string quartets by those composers that were recorded by the Budapest String Quartet but not at 30th St?
     
  20. charleymud

    charleymud New Member

    Location:
    USA
    That's fantastic, thanks. It's a stunning and ferocious recording, so I figured as much. In fact, those are each composers one and only quartet composed. As I'm sure you can all relate, any new (old) record I hear whose vibe and fidelity blows me away ends up being done at 30th Street. Recently listening to the Billie Holiday & Teddy Wilson compilation CD "A Musical Romance" which I've been listening to for ten years... the final track always sounded like a live recording to me. It's so lush and in your face, you really hear how Billie must have sounded live in the room. I finally re-read the liner notes and it's a 30th Street record. Go figure!
     
  21. mdr30

    mdr30 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Gothenburg, Sweden
    Are those stereo recordings?
     
  22. yasujiro

    yasujiro Forum Resident

    Location:
    tokyo
    Yes.
     
  23. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    The first review at Amazon says that it was released in both stereo and mono, and also where and when it was recorded. She must be also using Michael Gray's database....
     
  24. yasujiro

    yasujiro Forum Resident

    Location:
    tokyo
    Shvartze Shabbos and crispi like this.
  25. mdr30

    mdr30 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Gothenburg, Sweden
    Must get that one, very fine works and legendary ensemble.

    Hope to get back soon with two interesting recordings made in this impressive studio. But it were the engineers and producers who did the work.
     

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