1959: Today at the 30th Street Studio

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by DMortensen, Jan 15, 2019.

  1. Bob F

    Bob F Senior Member

    And since John Jr. wasn’t born until 1960, Bucky wouldn’t even be listed as John Sr. on the 1959 session report.
  2. Mal

    Mal Phorum Physicist

    Looks like Radio Recorders in Hollywood:

  3. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Milwaukee, WI
    That would make sense since Columbia hadn’t built their studio in Hollywood yet.
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  4. W.B.

    W.B. The Collector's Collector

    New York, NY, USA
    Later in 1959, Mr. Sherman would be credited as orchestra director for the last #1 hit of a '50's pop vocalist on Columbia. As we are on a rigid, sequential, chronological - and linear - timeline, I'll keep mum on what song that was and who the artist was until then.
    DMortensen likes this.
  5. W.B.

    W.B. The Collector's Collector

    New York, NY, USA
    From my understanding, for West Coast sessions Columbia rented recording space at Radio Recorders' Annex (later to become Annex Studios), not the main Radio Recorders itself, from 1949 to 1961. It was from there that the 'R' in many a matrix number (RHCO for 78's from 1949-58, RZSP for 45's from 1951-65) was derived. RR may well have cut the lacquers for West Coast-pressed copies of Columbia 45's and 78's in the 1950's; they look way different from New York-cut lacquers.
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  6. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Milwaukee, WI
    No speakers on the wall yet, but this appears to be the same studio as seen in the Ellington photo:


    Note the shelf (?) near the ceiling. Radio Recorders, January 1956.
  7. W.B.

    W.B. The Collector's Collector

    New York, NY, USA
    Also, during his late 1950's stint in Columbia, the Duke had a Hollywood session in 1958 which yielded "Blues In Orbit." He also apparently recorded there in 1959 to lay down the score for Anatomy Of A Murder. All other known sessions in that time period were in New York.
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  8. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Seattle, WA USA
    Nice work, Mal & all!

    Any guesses why they would put a picture of a Hollywood studio on the back of a "live" album recorded in a NYC studio? I don't see anything in the text around it on Luke's great find that hints at a reason.
    Shvartze Shabbos likes this.
  9. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Seattle, WA USA
    I confess I'm being sloppy in my affiliation designations. AFAIC working for Columbia and working for Epic are essentially the same thing, since they are branches of the same company. Potato, potahto. I'm willing to be corrected regarding the importance of getting that right, though....
  10. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Milwaukee, WI
    The art department had access to that photo and used it? That would be my guess. I suspect nobody involved cared too much about whether or not it was one of the sessions contained on the LP or not.
  11. jtaylor

    jtaylor Forum Resident

    Sorry, I guess I was just being pedantic.
  12. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Seattle, WA USA
    No need for an apology, I appreciate and need people to keep me honest. If you had a reason for keeping that distinction between branches it would be good to know.

    That brings up my outsider's view of this record company stuff: it seems like a lot of what they do is to create hype to generate interest in their product and to make people NEED to buy it. Buzz is a good thing and each project needs specialists in creating the type of buzz that will work to promote their interests.

    What would work to create interest in Horowitz would not necessarily work to create interest in Johnny Ray, and what would work to create interest in the Joe Glovers would not work to create interest in the Sabicas, or whatever combination of artists with disparate audiences you wish to name. Having different groups of employees who are attuned to those disparate audiences and who know what will push the buttons of those disparate audiences seems like a necessity for success.

    Having different labels (branches) seems like an efficient way to do that, and maybe knowing that someone works for Columbia tells you something about them that you wouldn't know if they worked for Epic, or vice-versa? Certainly knowing that they work for Masterworks tells me something specific about their likely temperament and experiences, but I don't know if that's true about the other branches, or even if it's entirely true for Masterworks.

    I completely welcome comments like yours, including reasoning, about this or any other aspect of this mysterious yet fascinating enterprise that involves recordings.

    One of the fascinating aspects is what we've seen a little of already: how they are trying this and that combination of styles, personnel, music, and whatever else to create or fill a need and sell some product to keep their jobs and create jobs for others. Many of the results don't work at all and are forgotten while others are just right and become iconic. Others fill a need today but as styles change are thrown in the dustbin of history.

    I think that's all fun to see.
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  13. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Milwaukee, WI
    One thing to note: when there was blowback from the payola scandal, companies would use different labels to spread releases around, in an effort to get more radio play. That is, stations may have been shy to play three new releases on Motown, but would play one each on Motown, Tamla, and Gordy.
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  14. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Seattle, WA USA
    Although it's jarring to see it put in those terms, since I like to think of myself as a free-thinking, hang-loose, easy going kind of guy, I do believe that this particular thread's story will be best told on a chronologically day-by-day basis while keeping options open to further discuss things that have already come up.

    For example, this recent Ellington day is the first one so far in the thread to have the level of Major Player that we expect to be in 30th Street, other than the Stravinsky one I skimmed over that occurred early in January. Nearly all the people involved in the Ellington session had huge careers and huge career outputs, and whole threads, books, and movies could be and are about many of them. While I welcome further discussion about that part of the session and about the shenanigans surrounding the album, I expect that we will move on to other subjects as they come up, and that will ultimately be a main purpose of this thread: the moving on and learning more about people and music that we would not ordinarily take the time to observe with any closeness.

    All of which occurred in that wonderful space.
  15. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Seattle, WA USA

    One thing I realized about the Ellington project that must be true of many others is that we are not seeing or naming composers and arrangers like Billy Strayhorn, who was present and active during the sessions. His role was important and I have nothing new to offer about him that you can't find by looking.

    These reports leave out the arrangers, composers (mostly), the producers, the engineers, and all the others who were there and working and should be named for their contributions. I have tried to do a little regarding producers but don't know much regarding everyone else.

    If you know who was involved on any of these levels you should feel free to jump in and say so that this record, which is likely the first time most of this (at least in aggregate) is public and can be more complete.
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  16. Rick Bartlett

    Rick Bartlett Forum Resident

    Look at those beautiful Magnatone amplifiers! Yummy.
    Be worth a few bucks today.
    5 amps, 5 guitarists is surely a joke right?
    5 electric players using the same gear on a session?
    Looks good though.
  17. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Seattle, WA USA
    February 24 (Tuesday) I:

    The first two sessions of the day were both with Philippe Entremont, the French pianist, who was another musical prodigy and who is apparently still going strong.

    From 10am-1pm, there was "work done on Chopin Ballade No. 4 in F minor."

    The resulting album had four of the Chopin Ballades on it

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Huh, the Canadian Masterworks labels were in blue

    [​IMG] while the US were in gray [​IMG]

    Discogs even has a picture of the stamp on the US version: [​IMG]

    FWIW I'm finding that Discogs will pretty reliably have some version of pictures for almost every album, while other services like Allmusic are better for biographies but will once in a great while have something that Discogs or Amazon doesn't.

    Late edit: Here it is on Youtube:

    On to the next two sessions.
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2019
  18. stereoguy

    stereoguy Its Gotta Be True Stereo!


    Correctamundo, and that was the thinking behind Vee Jay creating the "Tollie" label to issue "Twist and Shout" by The Beatles. Some radio station people were telling the Vee Jay promo reps they couldnt add any more Vee Jay records to their playlists for fear of payola appearance. So Vee Jay created the unassuming Tollie Label to get around that.
  19. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Seattle, WA USA
    February 24 (Tuesday) II:

    Philippe Entremont was in again from 2:30-5:30pm, this time with cellist Maurice Gendron. (Cool, he played an 18th Century Stradivarius, which is now known as the "ex-Gendron". And he was in a trio for 25 years with Yehudi and Hephzibah Menuhin!)

    That Chopin Ballade No. 4 must have been a pesky one, because Entremont worked by himself "a bit" on it again during these sessions, but together they recorded

    Beethoven: Sonata No. 3 in A Major, Op. 69 and
    Brahms: Sonata No. 2 in F Major for 'cello and piano, Op. 99

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    There was a note on one of the Discogs pages for a version of this album:

    "Original US Press Columbia Masterworks 6-Eye Stereo
    Early 1B/1J Columbia stampers"

    What's that all about?

    Here is an uncleaned-up needle drop on Youtube

    They would work further on this project in three sessions over the next two days.

    On to the last session of the day.
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  20. W.B.

    W.B. The Collector's Collector

    New York, NY, USA
    Canada had a reputation of being behind the 8-ball with label designs vs. the U.S. While Canadian Masterworks may've used the '6-eyes', where they were behind was in using dark blue paper. As for the mono U.S. 6-eye, that label type was printed by Bert-Co, ergo a Hollywood pressing; the fonts are:
    - 14 point Gothic Condensed No. 2
    - 8 and 10 point Trade Gothic Bold Condensed a.k.a. Gothic No. 20
    The stereo stamped matrix number in the deadwax was from a Terre Haute pressing. Alas, Discogs are very wanting in terms of comprehensive looks at all type variants on labels. I've had to submit a few myself (including quite a few from Columbia), they didn't have those "extra" variants until I got involved. Neither mono nor stereo labels from Bridgeport of this title are on Discogs.
    DMortensen likes this.
  21. W.B.

    W.B. The Collector's Collector

    New York, NY, USA
    The labels shown here are from a Terre Haute pressing. Bridgeport typesetting is on that YouTube clip.
  22. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Seattle, WA USA
    February 24 (Tuesday) III:

    This was definitely Classical Music Day in 30th St., but this final session had a twist.

    It went from 7-10pm and featured the internationally popular Danish musical humorist, conductor, and pianist Victor Borge, with Lehman Engel and His Orchestra.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    This is another note on one of the Discogs album pages: "This is not one of Victor Borge's comedic albums."

    The only song that was worked on today was "Tchaikovsky Concerto", but as we see from the album jacket and label it was actually a medley.

    This is as close as I could find on Youtube:

    IF this is it, it kind of shows the problem when someone who is known for being brilliant at one thing leaves out that thing when doing something else, which is our limitation as listeners rather than theirs as an artist.

    In any event, as we can hear from that recording (if it was done this day), that was a large orchestra that Lehman Engel wasn't conducting:

    Lehman Engel
    Contractor and Cello:
    Morris Stonzek
    Jack Zayde
    Tosha Samaroff
    Paul Gershman
    George Ockner
    Harry Glickman
    Harry Zarief
    Harold Kohon
    Michael Spivakovsky
    Alexander Cores
    Harry Urbont
    Eugene Settani
    Ben Miller
    William Lincer
    Harry Zaratzian
    Harold Coletta
    Nicolas Modavan
    George Ricci
    David Soyer
    Seymour Barab
    Homer Mensch
    Gloria Agostini
    John Hummer
    Robert Morris
    Albert Goltzer
    Philip Bodner
    Robert McGinnis
    Vincent J. Abato
    Harold Goltzer
    Theodore A. Gompers
    James Chambers
    Fred Klein
    Joseph Singer
    Ralph W. Brown
    Nathan Prager
    William A. Vacchiano
    Saul Goodman
    Morris Arnold Lang
    Neal DiBiase
    Albert Godlis
    Allen Ernest Ostrander

    Victor Borge, piano solo

    Can we assume that Lehman conducted when Victor was playing piano solos? I don't know how that works.

    And was Homer Mensch an assumed name for someone who couldn't be there under his own name? Nope, he was a notable bassist and teacher.

    I bet if you looked up every one of those people you'd find similar excellence.

    Note that there was one woman player; it took a while for women to be allowed to join classical orchestras. The first one in America was harpist Edna Philips, who was accepted into the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1930, according to that Wikipedia article.

    What about Gloria Agostini who was the only woman here? From the Canadian Encyclopedia:

    "Gloria Agostini. Harpist, teacher, b Montreal 30 May 1923, naturalized U.S. 1949, d 26 Jul 2004.

    "After receiving a harp at 12 as a Christmas gift from Senator Lawrence Wilson, Gloria Agostini studied the instrument with Mother Saint Roméo at the Villa-Maria Convent in Montreal. On a scholarship from the Quebec government she went to New York at 15 for studies with Marcel Grandjany.

    "She joined the ABC (radio) Symphony Orchestra in New York at 16. She returned to Canada in the early 1940s to perform on her brother Lucio Agostini's radio shows, was harpist 1941-2 with Les Concerts symphoniques de Montréal (Montreal Symphony Orchestra), and in 1942 was the soloist with that orchestra in Ravel's Introduction and Allegro.

    "She made her career in New York, however, playing in studio (radio and recording) and chamber orchestras, and in recital. Specializing in contemporary music, she participated in the premieres of Pierre Boulez's Explosante Fixe (1973), Alberto Ginastera's Serenata(1974), and Barbara Kolb's Soundings (1973) with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and also in the first performances of works by Henry Cowell (Triple Rondo for flute and harp 1965; Concerto for flute and harp 1965?), Paul Creston (Symphonic Poem for harp and orchestra 1945), Igor Stravinsky (Epitaphium, North American premiere, 1959), and Charles Wuorinen (Harp Variations 1971). She also played on jazz recordings by Paul Desmond, Gunther Schuller, and others, and on pop recordings by performers as varied as Hall and Oates, Tony Bennett, and Britney Spears.

    "In 1977 Gloria Agostini began teaching at Yale University; she also taught at the Mannes College of Music and the Manhattan School of Music. Among her pupils were Gretchen van Hoesen and the composer Paul Carey. For Lyra Music, she edited editions of chamber works for harp."

    That's pretty distinguished.

    There must have been other sessions for this album; perhaps we'll see them.
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  23. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Seattle, WA USA
    FWIW I like the blue better than the gray.

    And it's cool that you have submitted things to Discogs; even though they are not perfect they have been the only source so far for a lot of album jackets and labels, as near as I can tell (which is often not very near, apparently).

    Thanks for the info.
  24. W.B.

    W.B. The Collector's Collector

    New York, NY, USA
    For this session, the string ratio was 12 vn/4 vl/4 vc - not unheard of, but not recommended by either Nelson Riddle or Don Sebesky. One of the cellists, I noticed, was also the contractor, hence his being listed before the other three who played that instrument. (Some of those names went well into the 1970's if not later.) We're almost getting, in terms of total personnel and who played what, to Barry White/Love Unlimited Orchestra territory. :winkgrin: The total number, I see, is 41-piece.

    And that session isn't unique in terms of women players, it was also usually the case on the West Coast. Except for a bassist coming up through the ranks about this time named Carol Kaye.
  25. W.B.

    W.B. The Collector's Collector

    New York, NY, USA
    Another Terre Haute. Discogs doesn't have any Bridgeport variant listed, unfortunately.

    If you have time, check this list of label and, in some cases, jacket scans submitted by yours truly. (With two pics of yours.)

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