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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
    At the risk of desecrating this great thread by going off-topic from everything in the title except "30th St.", I just found a really interesting read about a company that was innovative in theater design in the early part of the 20th Century, who had their offices in NYC at variously or simultaneously or maybe sequentially 534, 538, and 542 W. 30th St.

    Peter Clark Inc. was most famous for designing Radio City Music Hall, but did a huge number of other theaters in NYC and around the world. He died in 1934, but his work lives on, including (I hope) the huge spinning globe in the lobby of the New York City Daily News.

    There is still a building at 542 W. 30th. St, and it's the one just to the West of the High Line park where it turns West at 30th St., where it meets the Hudson Yards gigantic development that is now open. In fact, that building has its Eastern corner cut off by the curve of the High Lien, which is an abandoned elevated freight rail line that was famously converted into an elevated park at the cost of billions of dollars (or a billion, anyway) and has completely transformed the mile plus of deserted or underused land that it traverses into a very popular and in demand retail, restaurant, and office area. (Before Covid, obviously.)

    Since the High Line was a railroad line at the time that Peter Clark was doing his thing, you'd have to think that their shop was there to assist in transporting their creations to the theaters they built and serviced.

    I haven't yet finished reading that website (it was only opened in June), but there's lots of pictures and diagrams and even movies about the subject. It's really well done.

    But has nothing to do with our beloved studio.

    Welcome to page 101, though!
     
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  2. jamo spingal

    jamo spingal Forum Resident

    Location:
    Europe
    Thanks for the thread which brought me to the Steve Hoffman forums in the first place. If only there were a higher percentage of threads as informed, enlightening, stimulating and (yes) educational as this one.
     
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  3. W.B.

    W.B. The Collector's Collector

    Location:
    New York, NY, USA
    Although it would in a way, if at least some of the productions in question were those to which Columbia had the rights and which Goddard Lieberson had produced.
     
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  4. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    Wow, I have to reply to this!

    Thank you for writing that! I'm floating above my chair thanks to you!!

    I know there's more to say about the subject, but I'm not sure at all where to go with this. I feel like we've discovered all the major things, or most of them, and that what's left is minutiae.

    I also felt that we were discovering significant things in the daily 1959 thread, but that somehow devolved into a conversation back and forth between me and the redoubtable W.B., although we were allies and not opponents (checking the meaning of "redoubtable", which seemed an appropriate adjective and is, excepting the "especially as regards an opponent" part).

    It seems like a book would be the logical next step for a normal person, but I took some time last Fall to attempt one and failed quickly. Words that weren't trivial wouldn't come.

    And regarding the formidable W.B.,...
     
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  5. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    Nice to hear from you, too!!!!!'

    The part of "production" that it seemed like Peter Clark was in were things like the theater construction and innovative designs like the moving stage segments at Radio City and other places, and not so much the individual production designs. Although I haven't finished reading that whole page....

    I'll write you off-thread.
     
  6. W.B.

    W.B. The Collector's Collector

    Location:
    New York, NY, USA
    I ain't arguin' on that. I have a few threads of country music #1's from 1944 into the '80's (all grouped into different threads) where you have whole pages like it was crickets chirping (that is, very few) while I have done some threads of British #1's (namely the '60's and '70's) where the pages go into the hundreds. So you're not alone in terms of the feeling we were probably the only ones standing in the daily '59 thread. But I also have a degree of sticktoitiveness.
     
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  7. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    You do, and that's a good quality to have IMO. I think I share that trait, but when it seems like it's just two people with sticktoitiveness going back and forth and back and forth...
     
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  8. mdr30

    mdr30 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Gothenburg, Sweden
    Oh, I thought that globe was situated in Metropolis?

    Pardon. On a serious note, we miss the informed postings and discussions in this thread.

    Any chance of finding the session musicians on Tony Bennet's 1965 album Songs for the Jet Set? One of my all time favourite 30th Street recordings.
     
  9. Bob F

    Bob F Senior Member

    From: If I Ruled The World: Songs For the Jet Set | The Interactive Tony Bennett Discography

    Vocals Tony Bennett
    Piano Ralph Sharon
    Bass Hal Gaylord
    Drums Billy Exiner, Elcio Milito
    Trumpet Bobby Hackett
    Clarinet Joe Marsala
    Tenor Sax Al Cohn
    Guitar Carlos Lyra

    See also: Tony Bennett Discography - JazzDiscography.com
    and thread: Tony Bennett: The Complete Albums
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2020
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  10. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    Thanks for posting that, Bob.

    Here's a little more info to add to that on the Bennett site:

    As noted there, it took 4 sessions to make the songs on that album, all in 1965:

    January 4 30th St
    February 18 30th St
    February 19 30th St
    March 11 CBS Studio 2 Chicago

    The page for January 4 is gone from the archives, but since it was at 30th St., the engineer and tape op were almost certainly the same as for the next two sessions.

    February 18 and 19 were in NYC at 30th St, and for both the engineer was Frank Laico; tape op was Bob Waller.

    The March 11 session was in Chicago. Did Frank go to Chicago? Or did they use the local guys? I don't know.
     
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  11. Bob F

    Bob F Senior Member

    From the book in the big Tony Bennett box set, The Complete Collection

    Engineers at 30th Street: Frank Laico, Robert Walker & Ted Brosnan
    Engineer in Chicago: Felix Thompson

    Note that only one track of the original album was recorded at the Chicago session (“Sweet Lorraine”), and this may have been a late addition to the LP lineup. From my friend Paul Mock’s post in the box set thread:
    Note also that, of the combined session musicians I listed, Bobby Hackett and Joe Marsala are credited only on the Chicago track. Hackett is shown on one of the two websites I linked as playing ukulele! (I thought that might be a mistake and listed him instead as playing his usual trumpet, but the ukulele credit is repeated in the box set book. Indeed, I see that Bobby Hackett was also a guitarist, and listening again to the album, I hear a ukulele and no trumpet.)
     
  12. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    Note Brosnan would have been tape op/"recordist", like Waller (not "Walker").
     
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  13. Bob F

    Bob F Senior Member

    Thanks for the correction. My typo. :hide:

    Actually, Brosnan’s name is misspelled as “Brosman” in the Tony Bennett box set book (but I self-corrected that one).
     
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  14. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    A few of us have been looking at some photos from the Columbia archives, and @GLouie remembered this photo:

    And pieced it together with this:

    [​IMG]

    Which was the "control room" for this session:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Those were taken January 5, 1960, of Igor Stravinsky conducting the Columbia Symphony Orchestra at the Hotel St. George in the Grand Ballroom (aka the "Colorama" ballroom). At least some of the session was released here:

    Stravinsky* Conducts Columbia Symphony Orchestra - Le Sacre Du Printemps = The Rite Of Spring

    We're not 100% certain the photo of Don Hunstein was taken on the same day, as none of the particulars in the photos line up, but it's most definitely the same location, and it's possible Hunstein was simply out of the frame of the other photo.

    Fred Plaut engineering with John McClure producing (and talking to Plaut). I don't recall if we identified the person to the right of Stravinsky, but perhaps Gary or Dan can chime in if they know.

    Oh, and for the tech geeks, there are 3 AGK C12s surrounding the podium, a C12 in front of the brass, a C12 in front of the percussion, and a Neumann U48 (or U47) behind the woodwinds. We saw a similar setup on other remote sessions.
     
  15. GLouie

    GLouie Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle
    I'd be comfortable calling the Hunstein photo the same session even though we can't match the position. Everything else matches, like the temporary wall, the background decor, and the holiday boughs on the faux columns. I'd assume the boughs are only there during the holidays, so, how many sessions were done there during the Xmas season?
     
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  16. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    Offhand seems unlikely to me that it would have been a different session, unless perhaps there were other sessions around that same time (December 59-January 60). There was another session the next day, which in theory is a possibility, but thinking about it some more, I’m sure it was Hunstein that took those photos and I question whether he would have been there two days in a row, so I’m betting the photo of him was also taken on the 5th.
     
  17. GLouie

    GLouie Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle
    I'll guess that Stravinsky's monitor speakers are KLH Model Four, based on the time period, CRI's use of KLH 6s, and the resemblance of the back plate. Looks like a custom connector was added, maybe a P2.

    [​IMG]
     
  18. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    The only sessions I see in the AFM Reports are both on January 5, 1960.

    The first, from 10am-1:30pm, is "Igor Stravinsky conducting the Columbia Symphony Orchestra".

    Songs recorded (verbatim):

    Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring
    --The Fertility of the Earth Part 1
    --The Sacrifice Part 2
    (part 1 done only; see session of Jan. 6 for completion)

    The second, from 2:30pm-6:30pm, is "Robert Craft conducting the Columbia Symphony Orchestra".

    Songs recorded:

    Berg: Three Pieces
    I. Preludium
    II. Requin
    III. March

    Webern: Six Pieces
    I, II, III, IV, V, VI --done

    So there was a Jan. 6 session (at least one), but either I didn't note it or it's not in the archives. I know that I didn't get everything in the archives, as I was always in a hurry since I didn't know if I'd finish in the time available to me, but I definitely did my best to note EVERY NYC session, so I'm inclined to think the Jan. 6 one isn't in there. (There are a bunch of Jan. 6 sessions in 30th St. --which claimed to have 4 sessions that day but at least two were simultaneous--, just no more Stravinsky/Craft or Hotel St. George.)

    I read a couple books by Craft and he talks about how they'd squeeze in this new music stuff that he wanted to do, like Webern, into the extra hours of Stravinsky dates as possible, since the maestro couldn't go for great lengths of time and there'd be odd times left over. Not sure that this is one of those, but the Webern reminded me of that.

    Oh, so that probably means it's Robert Craft in that group pic at the console.
     
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  19. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    And correct you are:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Robert Craft, Stravinsky Adviser and Steward, Dies at 92
     
  20. Chris C

    Chris C Music was my first love and it will be my last!

    Location:
    Ohio
    One of these days I'm going to have to get a subscription to that "failing" "New York Times", LOL. I love how they even advertise themselves that way now, which, in my opinion, is a brilliant spin of negative advertising!
     
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  21. mdr30

    mdr30 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Gothenburg, Sweden
    Very interesting! I always wondered where that fine sounding Rite was recorded. Engineer and microphone placement must have played their parts, and also the spacious recording site.

    Was the St George hotel used in many Columbia recordings? I seem to recall that Bernstein and the NYPO made one or two there.
     
  22. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
  23. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    Yes, it was a regular venue for Columbia for a time. Don't know specifics, but it was definitely used over multiple years.
     
  24. Chris C

    Chris C Music was my first love and it will be my last!

    Location:
    Ohio
    Dan,

    Yesterday while listening to my CD box set of Rupert Holmes called "Cast Of Characters", I got an idea for you.

    Yes, I realize that you probably already have two questions.

    #1. Am I talking about the same Rupert Holmes of "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)" fame. (Yes I am)
    and
    #2. Why would anyone have a box set of his material. (What can I say? I have been a faithful fan of Rupe since 1978 and I treasure his singer/songwriting skills. By the way, just try to find a copy of Rupert's box set for a reasonable price these days, so there must be more fans other than myself or else Hip-O Records only made a very small pressing of this box set?)

    With that said, I happened to notice while reading the accompanying booklet that Rupert's 1976 album "Singles" (released on EPIC Records), was partly recorded at CBS 30th St. studio. Rupert, if you don't already know, has since tackled writing for TV, movies, books and Broadway and he is like a walking encyclopedia of many interesting subjects. I know this because he often guests on a podcast that my wife and I frequently listen to, called "Gilbert Gottfried's Amazing Colossal Podcast"

    Again, I hear the questions in your head. Please allow me to cut to the chase and just say that while clearly Gilbert is easily known for his low brow comedy and snarky approach, his podcast with co-host Frank Santopadre, is often very informative depending on the guest for that particular podcast. I must also include that eventually Gilbert's notorious laugh gets in your head like no other laugh and if you've never heard Gilbert singing (which he does often), is about as good as it is equally bone-chillingly bad!

    The thing is, these are all NEW YORK guys and between Rupert, Gilbert and Frank, they probably know stories or people who do, regarding the famous 30th St. studio and I believe that if you would try to reach out to them (possibly get through to them by contacting the podcast producers?), they might be able to add to your continuing 30th St. work? The people that these three people know, might be able to unlock hours of research. Rupert himself produced for Barbra Streisand on numerous occasions (although I don't believe that he ever cut tracks with her at the 30th St. studios?), but we all know that she has with others. Who knows if there will be a payoff from trying to reach out to these fine people, but I know that they all love to talk about old things that are loved by most and that they each have what I call "a vast knowledge of useless trivia", so the payoff could be priceless? Who knows, but in the end there might even be a dedicated podcast by them about the 30th St. studio? As a longtime radio personality myself, you'd be surprised where ideas come from for topics or themes that I might use on the air.

    As I said, it's just an idea ...

    Best,
    Chris
     
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  25. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    Hi Chris,

    Thanks for this fun idea! I've read about Rupert Holmes, and that he really didn't get the attention he deserved and that what he did in his 30th St. sessions was really cool and well-done. IIRC, Frank Laico talked about working with him although I won't swear to that.

    I'm kind of busy these days working on the AES Convention that in normal times would be in NYC but will now be online, but I think it would be fun to reach out and see what happens.

    If you want to be involved in that, it would be fun to do something with someone else from here who has some familiarity with what we are interested in. Can you PM me the contact info for the podcast producers? There's no hurry, as it will be a while until I can focus on this. We are just now entering the busy time.

    Thanks!
    Dan
     
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