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

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

  1. David Fletcher

    David Fletcher Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Brooklyn
    Cady designed the old Metropolitan Opera.

    The church was originally a Presbyterian church. I'm guessing that the studio was originally the sanctuary of the church, which must have faced east or west, and you would enter from the south center door. There would have been windows on the north side of the room, facing the inner courtyard.

    I'm friends with the Asst. Chief Counsel of Sony Entertainment. I'm going to ask him to put me in contact with someone who works in the archives, to see if they have any records, things like renovation blueprints.
     
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  2. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    Edit 1: The interior of the Met Opera House that he designed burned out and was replaced with the one that became well-known, and which was designed by someone else.

    There was never an inner courtyard, FYI, although there was some space at the back past the property line (our building seemed to be on the property line on three sides) before the other buildings, but not a big space. The space was determined AFAIK by how those owners sited their buildings.

    Edit 2: The sanctuary was shaped like an elongated stop sign (octagon), and there were indeed windows on the angled walls (as opposed to the walls on N-S-E-W, if the streets were lined up square to the compass). Nothing on those cardinal point walls, though.

    Ask him about Engineering Archives; I'm already going and have gone into the normal archives, and there is no engineering stuff there. What they have is what was left when Sony bought both RCA and Columbia, and the archivist was an RCA guy so he knows more about that than Columbia. I'm going through what that part of Sony has. Going there again at the end of the month.

    He didn't know anything about any Engineering Archive, though, so if you can find something that will move us beyond where we are now.

    This reminds me: I've been introduced via email in the last few days to a guy here in NYC who was originally hired to do the remodel of 30th St. (or so I'm told), and today he agreed that maybe we could talk on the phone after the AES Convention. So I'm looking forward to that but trying to get my work done ahead of the convention on my presentations as well as doing last minute wrangling on my Track.

    Lots of stuff happening in a short amount of time.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2018
  3. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    Oh, and the great-grandson wrote back and said he was only interested in records people because he knew someone who is now deceased but was in promotions at CBS and wondered if I knew him. That's it.

    We're going to do a phone call after the convention.
     
  4. David Fletcher

    David Fletcher Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Brooklyn
    It seems odd to only have had windows on those short angled walls. I'm not doubting you, I'm just wondering, what was the practicality of that.
     
  5. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    Look at the pictures in this thread of the bricked up windows? They were like 20' tall, and presumably or maybe had some kind of stained glass in them, so they would provide art and light from both sides/ends of the space. The angled walls opened up exterior spaces that were open to the sky/light. There was also an actual skylight centered in the studio/church roof that was 23' x 26'. Since we see no light from above in the studio days, it must have been removed or covered in the 1947-8 remodel.

    I was thinking about this exact subject the other day (for the umpteenth time), and trying to reconcile the center entrance to the church with the empty space behind that entrance and the shallow rectangular studio/church space with the windows to left and right, and think now there might have been a large-ish foyer inside the central entrance, with the entrance to the church straight ahead and the altar straight ahead from that. This way people enter from the back rather than the side of the church.

    Further, I've seen it said that Studio D was in the former sacristy (the location where the priests suit up and prepare for the service), so that would indicate that the foyer was tilted to the right, in the space that turned into the new control room and machine room, since I believe Studio D had to be on the personnel entrance side of the center space. Maybe there was a space on the right, balancing the sacristy on the left, so the foyer was long and more narrow?

    This is all speculation, though; I have no hard evidence. That's one of the things I was hoping to find by looking at Architect Cady's work, to see if there was a typical way he handled such things. Or, better yet, if there were drawings of his works in a collection somewhere that might include the Adams Church, although it wasn't named that when he designed it.
     
  6. GLouie

    GLouie Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Seattle
    Did you ask TZS about 30th st floor plans? Is he willing to help identify people in photos?
     
  7. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    No and yes.

    We looked at pictures for a while and he ID'd several people. We realized how much time we'd spent on the pics and decided to start watching the movie RFN. It took me a while to set up the recording bits and get them to work, because I'd reset the recorder to record him looking at and talking about pics. When our hour of watching the movie was up, he took off right away. I hope he got to Penn Station before the hurricane remnant hit. I was about halfway there when it slammed, but I had umbrella, boots, raincoat, and rain cover for pack, so just my legs got wet. It was slamming.

    So many things to talk about, so little time.

    FYI he seemed to enjoy looking at the pictures as much as we do.
     
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  8. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    While looking around for something else, I found this article by John McClure on the Leonard Bernstein website. The article seems to be at the bottom of that page.

    At the top of the page is a picture showing Bernstein & McClure "in the studio", but it looks more like they are sitting in front of many rows of seats like a theater. Is that Manhattan Center? It says 1963, and definitely not anyplace I've seen.

    Although it only name-checks 30th St., it gives some background into McClure, who spent a considerable amount of time in 30th St while he was head of Masterworks. (Cute misspelling of "swam" from the original.)

    Bernstein vs. The Studio
    Recording Lenny the Hard Way
    by John McClure

    At the risk of waxing sentimental, I invite you to join me in a reminiscence on my early recording days with Lenny. To do this, let's go back: back to the dawn of recording history, say, to about 1959, when digital still meant "finger-operated"; when Lenny was Music Director of the New York Philharmonic and under contract to Columbia Records; back to when he was slim and boyish and I was a green, young record producer, to a time when we used to have rites of passage called recording sessions, marathon-like events of seven or eight hours that went on until someone finally ran out of gas.

    I had come to this enviable hotseat from a musical/harpsichord/engineering background. It helped that I was a good bluffer; when crises arose that were outside my ken, I learned on the job while maintaining an air of studied casualness. I had started out at an engineering job with Columbia Records, and was brought into the Masterworks Department in 1957 by its director David Oppenheim, Lenny's recording producer and friend. Oppenheim gave me a once-in-alifetime, sink-or-swim opportunity to organize a recording project in Hollywood with Bruno Walter involving a new process called stereo. Luckily, I sawm.

    In 1959, Oppenheim announced his departure for the greener fields of television, leaving Schuyler Chapin, a Columbia Artists Management graduate, and myself to run the department. His gift to us before leaving was a recording contract with Mr. Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic that was to last almost 20 years. In that time, Lenny and I made about 200 records together, in ten countries, 16 cities and 26 different recording locations.

    My frist encounter with LB and the Philharmonic came about in 1959, at Symphony Hall, Boston. Schuyler Chapin had scheduled the first recording under this contract to coincide with LB and the orchestra's return to the US from a triumphant tour of the Soviety Union. The orchestra disbanding for vacation the day after their Boston concert, so this was our only chance to record. For me, it was an unknown conductor and orchestra in an unfamiliar hall. A serendipitous blend of luck, good microphone placement and inspired orchestral playing resulted in classic recordings of the Shostakovich Fifth Symphony and Copland's Billy the Kid. With a happy conductor as a bonus, we were off on the right foot.

    Our subsequent recording locales in New York wound from the St. George Hotel in Brooklyn (where we might have stayed longer if the Jehovah's Witnesses hadn't bought the hotel for their world headquarters) to Manhattan Center on 34th Street to Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center, with occasional forays into Columbia's 30th Street studio. Recording in the Grand Ballroom of Oscar Hammerstein's opera house, which became Manhattan Center in a seedier incarnation, was rarely a pleasure, although in mid-winter, when the heat was on and the hunmidity reduced, it produced quite thrilling results. But these came at a considerable human cost.

    Woe to the poor maestro as the excessive liveness of this florid Egytian/Deco magnificence forced him (for reason of ensemble) to conduct actual beats instead of subtle phrases. Woe to the poor record producer forced to bring his mikes closer and closer to placate the distraught maestro, who demanded presence and clarity from this greasy swamp of reverberation. Woe, too, to all present and involved, since this situation had the potential of putting the maestro in a foul mood where, even though renowned for his taciturn forbearnance, he just might let slip a mild remonstrance or grimace that the naive onlooker might misinterpret as extreme personal displeasure.

    Mind you, even at the best of times, all symphonic recording sessions, with their $200-a-minute tension, start out with a varying degree of panic. And it was often difficult to take into account the string player's need to warm up and our own need to reposition microphones to adjust for that specific day's reverberation time. Even when the hall was "behaving," it wasn't easy work. Lenny's idea of a good orchestral perspective was what he heard on the podium—in the thick of it. It frustrated him that you, the listener, safe in your tenth row seat, were quite out of harm's way. He wanted the music to leap at you, assault you, caress you the way it did him. Even when I had completed a recording I felt was too present, Lenny would, in post-production, push me to raise this phrase, or highlight this section. There was no getting round him: the music-rabbi didn't just play the music, he taught it.

    For thirty years we struggled over this note, that perspective. We did our best. And while life with Lenny was often nerve-wracking, it was also vivid, educational, warm, stimulating and exhausting. His absence leaves a big hole in all our lives.

    John McClure was a recording engineer and record producer for Columbia Masterworks Records who worked with Bernstein for more than 30 years, winning a Grammy Award for Bernstein: Symphony No. 3 'Kaddish' in 1965.
     
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  9. yasujiro

    yasujiro Forum Resident

    Location:
    tokyo
    :help: Very sorry this is off topic. But can anyone identify the microphones on the picture?
    It was taken from the 1976 Getz and Gilbert live stage at Keystone Korner, SF.
    Thank you.

    [​IMG]
     
  10. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    Hard to say from that shot, but my guess is they are AKGs. Possibly a D-1000E with added windscreen on the vocal and C-451E on the guitar, possibly with an omni capsule. Those seem to be AKG clips.

    http://lcweb2.loc.gov/master/mbrs/r...KG Microphones and Headphones (Oct. 1970).pdf

    Certainty is low, however.
     
  11. yasujiro

    yasujiro Forum Resident

    Location:
    tokyo
  12. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    D1000E with that kind of windscreen (maybe came with it?) is what came to mind before reading Luke's response.

    Mine had clips with clear plastic as the part that holds the mic, not the part that attaches to the stand. That was black plastic. The latter was square and this looks like it COULD be square. No idea about the guitar mic.
     
  13. yasujiro

    yasujiro Forum Resident

    Location:
    tokyo
    Thank you!
    D1000E was used widey in the 70s over the world?
     
  14. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    Don't know that, but I think I had as many as 4 in the mid-70's. They were OK, not fabulous, and I replaced them with 421's which worked much better for my purposes with my equipment at the time. I think I still have a couple.

    I remember I saw a lot of them with really lousy PA's, and that may have influenced my decision to look elsewhere.
     
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  15. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    With the AES Convention over, Gary Louie and I walked across town (on 30th Street!) so he could see where it was.

    On the way he brought up the Sheik Restaurant, discussed in the quotes, and we looked for possible locations on Lexington but near 30th so it would be easy to get to from the studio.

    To recap, here is a frame grab from that part of the "Glenn Gould On The Record" film where they are in The Sheik:

    [​IMG]

    One possibility that jumped out was this place on Lexington about 2 doors from 30th on the side of the street closest to 3rd Avenue.

    [​IMG]

    It's shuttered, in more ways than one as we'll see in a moment.

    Still, points in favor:
    1) It's in the right place, on the correct side of the street;
    2) It's a little place, just right for a cozy conversation;
    3) The stuff across the street could be what we can see the bottom of through the window;
    4) The straight line visible halfway between Howard and the edge of the frame COULD be a parking sign, and there is one showing in the now picture in about the right spot.

    Points against:
    1) Maybe it's too small for big deal recording people?
    2) The door is to our left which would be on the right if you were inside. There's lettering visible on the window on the left, maybe that's where the door is?
    3) There's no way to know if it's the right place;
    4) That may not be a parking sign in the "Then" picture, and even if it was things could have changed in nearly 60 years. (Evidence: No tree in "Then", small tree in "Now".

    That must be a tough location:

    [​IMG]

    One line is hidden by the closed grill/shutter, but I don't think it negates that the business is gone.

    Regardless, I was wondering what those words were to the left of Howard, so I flipped the "Then" picture.

    [​IMG]

    Cutting to the chase, I believe it says "Lebanese Cuisine".

    If you have another opinion, I'm all ears. At least it doesn't seem to be a phone number, which was the first direction I went in.

    Other news from watching that part of the movie again:

    A) Lexington was two way then; now it's one way going from right to left (uptown to downtown, if the Sheik was on the East side of the street).

    B) There's no parking in the movie, now the West (far?) side of the street is wall to wall parking. We didn't think to look if there was a fire hydrant there.

    On to the former studio site.
     
  16. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    Arriving at the former studio location, here is Gary standing underneath the famous numbers which have been infamously usurped and had both gravitas and aura snatched away:

    [​IMG]

    This, of course, is the carbuncle now present on the site:

    [​IMG]

    Defying all hope and prayer, the property has not yet reverted to its former exalted state. I suppose a periodic update to confirm this lack of change will be in order as we go into the future. (e.g., "President Francisco Franco is still dead.")

    The two discoveries today:

    Here's Gary in front of the fence that is the only survivor from the glorious time:

    [​IMG]

    I'm not at all sure but the hooks at the top right of the fence didn't look familiar; have they been added since last time?

    Hey, in fact they have! Here is a picture from 2012:

    [​IMG]

    Those condo or apartment people should know we are carefully watching their garbage area for changes!

    Finally for this visit, we went around the whole 30th/31st St block to orient ourselves to it, and that was interesting.

    On the Third Avenue side, between the corner building (formerly next to the studio property and still next to the cond0/apartment property) we found this fence protecting a similar space as shown above:

    [​IMG]

    This appears to be the same design, same age, and so probably the same builder, as the one around the corner on 30th St.

    We are getting to the bottom of this mystery!

    As you can see, Gary is stunned by this finding, so much so that he is completely disoriented and has no idea where the camera is. I was similarly shaken, and only a visit to a relatively nearby Starbucks calmed us both down.

    We decided to go over to 49 E. 52nd St. and see if any new sacred relics had been added to the shrine in the Duane Reed.
     
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  17. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    Because of the importance of this holy site, I am going to use my full allotment of 5 pictures in this post.

    Here is the restored exterior of the former home of many Columbia Records offices and editing suites:

    [​IMG]

    Duane Read did a terrific job of restoring the shrine's exterior, and I told the monks within, who all seemed to be in some sort of distinctive monastic dress, to please tell Mr. Read how much we appreciate his concern and care.

    Note that, similar to the 30th St. Studio Church, the personnel entrance is on the left of the building.

    Going inside and up the conveniently located stairway to the second floor shrine, we see

    [​IMG]

    me struggling to stay upright in the face of waves of emotion washing all over the place. (At least I'm facing the right way.)

    Note that although the temperatures in the City today were in the high 30's or low 40's, Mr. Read maintains a comfortable temperature around the relics, so hats are not required.

    Note, too, that the signage specifically and correctly calls out that the displayed items are food for the soul. Or implies that, at the very least.

    The shrine's right side encourages children to benefit from the healing effects of the objects presented in that part of the (dare I say) altar.

    [​IMG]

    As you can see, I am savoring the moment.

    Penultimately, this is the edge of one of the fins/polycylindrical diffusors.

    [​IMG]

    To Mr. Read's credit, you can see there is very little additional wear to the fins since our last visit, and I think we can believe that he is taking very good care of the relics.

    Finally, the only new thing we saw on site was this sign, which is partially visible in both pictures of me and therefore makes me feel close both to its presence and its meaning:

    [​IMG]

    I don't doubt that these harmonious words will be studied into the future, which is where we must go now as we bid a fond adieu to this previously unchurched area and go back to our business.
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2018
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  18. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    More of that shot:

    [​IMG]

    Note 129 on the awning.

    129 Lexington Ave today:

    [​IMG]

    Note the:

    - fire hydrant
    - spacing of the doors
    - shop window in the same place

    Across the street, 132 Lexington Ave:

    [​IMG]

    Not finding much about that address. A restaurant named La Louisiana opened there in mid 1978 and was there for at least a few years. A decade later Sonia Rose occupied the space; there's a photo of the inside, albeit not looking out the front window. The earliest mention I can find at the moment is Viridian opened there in February 1977, and that the "ill-fated establishment that formerly occupied the site" featured "red-plush décor". No word on what the previous establishment was.

    That's all I've got for now.
     
  19. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    Wonderful! I think you have it!

    That is more of a walk from the studio than I would have guessed, being between 28th and 29th, but not that far.

    Wish you were here, I think you'd have a great time.
     
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  20. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    I wish I could be there. It just can get tricky balancing a finite amount of time off with a wife that loves to travel.

    Next up: figure out the restaurant where the Company crew took a break?
     
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  21. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    Another footnote, but on Vintage India NYC's web site, there's a video of a story that a local TV station did about them, and there are some quick shots of both the exterior and interior.
     
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  22. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    Plan some travel to NYC when I'm here? Kill two birds with one stone.

    Dan Daley the writer came to my talk and told me he'd lived in the neighborhood for 40 years, across 3rd Avenue on 30th St.

    He said the restaurant closest to the studio on the corner of 3rd and 30th, now called The Banc, has always been a restaurant (I have a memory of it being called The Bank and having an open bank vault door as part of the decor - not sure if that's a made-up memory but I definitely remember that place being an eatery and it would make sense it's called some variation of Bank because it used to be a bank).

    Frank often talked about often needing to get the musicians back and going to the bar on the corner to find them, and that would be the location of the Bankc.

    So it makes sense to me that in a grueling session they would take a break to the closest place where Tom Shepard could come tell them about it likely ending at 4am.

    I'm going to talk with Dan more about this if he's willing. He sent a nice note describing how the neighborhood has changed, and that although he was aware of the studio he never went in but looked in the open equipment entrance a few times and could see into the studio part.

    The convention ended Saturday and that evening and yesterday were hectic and I have some phone calls planned for today after which I'm going to take a nice long walk. Later tonight or soon I'll do a recap of the 30th St Studio-related parts of the Historical Track. There was absolutely no response to the Historical Track thread that I separately started, so I'm not sure it's worth the time to reply there, although maybe if people read how cool the presentations were (and they really were) there'd be more interest next time.
     
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  23. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    Oh, and thanks to Art Kendy, tomorrow I'm having lunch with the guy I mentioned earlier who was hired to do the technical remodeling of 30th St. He says he knew Frank Laico pretty well. We just worked that out a few minutes ago.

    Thursday and Friday I go to Yale, and Monday and Thursday next week I go back to Sony Archives.

    Also as mentioned,sometime this week, I thought today, I am going to talk with J. Cleaveland Cady's great-grandson. I just sent an email and left a phone message.
     
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  24. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    We may have have our red-plush décor, from 1972:

    "Le Touret at 132 Lexington Avenue near 27th Street (683-2089) also embodies a fantasy, that of Thomas Dargis, a former market researcher. But Dargis found an experienced partner, Raymond Braiselle, who, until the restaurant opened, was home-feeding such patrician palates as Mrs. Vincent Astor's, Mrs. Albert Lasker's, and the Mellons'. Bariselle cooks; Dargis decorated, transforming the disastrously dingy Armenian restaurant that was previously here, The Sheik, into the ultimate in chic: red plush banquettes, bright lighting from golden chandeliers, four-foot flower arrangements of forsythias and ***** willows, strictly à la Grenouille."

    New York Magazine
     
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  25. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    Thinking about cameras, and re-watching Glenn Gould - On The Record, I was curious what Don Hunstein used for cameras. In the film he's using a couple of rangefinders. I'm not a Leica expert, but as far as I can tell, the first one he's using is an M3 (held to his eye in the shot), while the other is an M1:

    [​IMG]

    I'd be happy to be corrected.

    Here's a selfie, seemingly around the same time, that seems to be an M3:

    [​IMG]

    This seems to confirm it:

    "Don Hunstein grew up in St. Louis, MO and attended Washington University, graduating in 1950 with a degree in English. After college he enlisted in the US Air Force and was stationed in Fairford, England, and assigned a desk job. It was this assignment that allowed him to travel around Europe. He began photographing casually, taking pictures to send home to his family, and then with the help of a Leica M3 purchased in the PX, and inspired by a book of renowned street photographer Henri Cartier Bresson’s work, his hobby began to take him on a lifelong path. After a year in Fairford, Don was transferred to a base outside of London. There he joined a local camera club and took evening classes at London’s Central School of Art and Design, becoming influenced by the artists and designers whom he met there."

    Later on, it seems he started using SLRs. I'm nearly certain these are early Asahi Pentax models:

    [​IMG]

    While I think this may be a later model:

    [​IMG]

    Not 100% certain, though.

    Dan, has Don's wife ever mentioned the types of cameras he used?
     
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