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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
    Thanks!

    The Wikipedia article is OK, but is pretty short on personal information. While I don't ordinarily seek out articles from the NY Daily News, this article is a little disjointed but has all the info that I was looking for about his dad and brothers and confirms what I thought.

    Edit: Looking further, both Ted and his dad Schuyler are part of the Masterworks Broadway website; Ted with his own page, and Schuyler mentioned in a news article on the MWB page about Doris Day, Robert Goulet, and the 1963 studio cast recording of "Annie Get Your Gun" and how it came about, with the President of Masterworks at the time, Schuyler Chapin, who "was intent on recording Irving Berlin's best score for a Broadway musical". So that's all good information, thanks for the impetus to look on Wikipedia. They also had the link to the Daily News article.
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2021
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  2. brucej4

    brucej4 Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Mateo, CA, USA
    Schuyler's own Wikipedia article lists the things that he was best known for around NYC:
    "Schuyler Garrison Chapin (February 13, 1923 – March 7, 2009) was a General Manager of the Metropolitan Opera, and later Commissioner of Cultural Affairs for New York City during the administration of Mayor Rudy Giuliani. He also served as the dean of the Columbia University School of the Arts."

    It does not mention him being President of Masterworks. In fact, apart from the two newspaper articles you referenced, I can't find any mention of him with respect to Columbia Records. I suspect that President of Masterworks was a title that he was able to pick up due to his friendship with Leonard Bernstein, and not something that really required much heavy lifting. Goddard Lieberson was President of Columbia Records at that time, and he is the one who guided the Broadway cast and studio cast recording efforts.

    The same year as the "Annie Get Your Gun" studio recording, he became a VP of Lincoln Center, which was starting to do musical revivals that would be recorded by RCA Victor. He was likely involved with some of those.
     
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  3. GLouie

    GLouie Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle
    I suppose we will will never know for sure.
    It just -sounds- to me like he thought the existing overheads inadequate, so he replaced them with photofloods. And he was worrried when 1 or 2 burned out and how would he change others if they blew because of the musicians - why would he be so worried if it was just a few floor-standing and clamp lights? OTOH, that is a lot of overheads to change in the first place.

    I could conjecture that some clamp lights in the control room were a given due to typical CR lighting, and some big fill lights in the studio since pure overheads would make bad shadows. A stand lamp could be any wattage or maybe quartz, so brightness isn't a good indicator. Color could vary in dozens of ways back then and even more ways today.

    I will take another look when my BR arrives.
     
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  4. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    OK, you've got me looking up who was in charge of Masterworks and when. ("President" of Masterworks is not a phrase I'd heard before the article I quoted; "Director" seems to have been the preferred term.)

    Anyway, I'm not ready to post any string of names and times, yet, but will refer you to p. 245 of Gary Marmorstein's book "The Label" for a description of how Goddard found Schuyler after David O. left, for Schuyler to run Masterworks.

    Gary M. is pretty loose on dates, so getting exact timing won't come directly from that book in most cases.

    If anyone already has the list of people who ran Masterworks, please post it and save me some work.
     
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  5. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    I think I referenced his autobiography way earlier in this thread; his involvement at Lincoln Center is an incredible episode in an incredible life, and is well worth a read. (I like biographies.)
     
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  6. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    The new commentary from Stephen Sondheim mostly focuses on the musical itself, as opposed to the recording session, but he did note this early on:

    "I recorded in three studios in those days. The Columbia studio I think was the first choice of everybody. I think it was supposedly 'the best' for whatever reasons. Fred Plaut, who was our sound engineer for the recording session, was probably the most well-known in the business. Or one of the two or three, anyway."
     
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  7. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    Watched the Sondheim commentary tonight (loved it); the Side By Side feature, which was an interview by Frank Rich with Sondheim and Tunick (loved it); Outakes/unseen material from the original Strich/Prince/Pennebaker commentary (loved it); the full "Co-op" parody episode (meh, although faithful to the original and technically well done. Just not funny at all to me).

    Also, there's a shot in the control room back wall with the built in lighting dimmer knobs visible, and two of them appear to have "Company" logo cards sitting between the knobs and the walls. Wonder if that's a code to leave those knobs alone? The cards look like they're about 6" square. Certainly didn't notice that in the original version. The detail in the Blu-Ray is really nice.
     
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  8. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    I've just assumed that was a convenient place to put them, but I suppose that's one bit of trivia we'll likely never know for certain.
     
  9. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    OK, finished as much of a look into the history of Masterworks heads as I'm going to be able to do, so here it is:

    Masterworks Heads (all page numbers from “The Label” by Gary Marmorstein):

    Louis Sterling (owned company 1924, -p.63 In 1927 “Sterling continued the Masterworks series with at least nine major conductors…”)

    Moses (Moe, p 104) Smith (1938??- 1945?) p 99

    Goddard Lieberson (hired as assistant to Smith in September 1939; ~November 1945 was in charge after Smith left) p. 99, 121. Relied on Greta Rauch p. 143

    Charles O’Connell (music director 1944-47) p 167

    Dick Gilbert/Goddard Lieberson p. 168 1947?-1956?

    David Oppenheim (1950-59 -Wikipedia; -1957 per “The Label” “left after recently divorcing Judy Holliday and marrying Ellen Adler”, which were both in 1957 - Left in July p. 245) (entrance: “He was 34” p.200, so he became head of Masterworks in 1956-57) This is confusing.

    John McClure (p. 244 -“already in Oppenheim’s office by Chapin’s arrival; in charge of music" /Schuyler Chapin ( p. 243: “Executive Coordinator”); started October 1959

    John McClure

    Stopped looking after that.

    Note that Howard Scott was named "Recording Director" in 1952, according to an obit that I found, but that term seems to be more like what we think of as "Producer", and he was never seen to be in charge of Masterworks.

    Note, too, that Columbia didn't seem to be big on direct responsibilities particularly depending upon job title; there are numerous instances in "The Label" where someone outside of the person nominally in charge of Masterworks but higher up in the parent company would add someone to or remove someone from Masterworks.

    FWIW, Marmorstein's book is pretty infuriating as the only index contains people only; no subjects like "Masterworks" or "LP"s or whatever else.
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2021
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  10. GLouie

    GLouie Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle
    I skimmed thru some of the "Company" Blu-ray and noted a few things:

    Sondheim's memory is extraordinary - remembering details of Pam Meyer's audition; identifying the dark-haired woman next to Hal Prince (costume designer for Company, D.D. Ryan), which Tom Z. Shepard could not do in 2018. He calls the restaurant a nearby diner (in the Side by Side segment), which sadly doesn't help us identfy it.

    The new transfer doesn't look that much better than the DVD to me, although they did clean up some things but left many tape splice marks in. There's a comment in the notes about cleaning up a lot of dirt. Some of the worst are gone, such as a huge tape blotch just as TZS comes into the restaurant to say they will finish at 4am, and a reel change mark at DVD 34:08. Maybe they used a release print for the DVD? The new title crawls seem steadier; I don't know if they redid them digitally, or if that's digital correction.

    The light in the Bruno Walter room and exit hallway seem greener than the DVD - I think that's fluorescent lights vs. the incandescent photofloods in the corners of the control room. Oddly, they got some shots of the tape machine in there and the color looks OK.

    I could go either way on whether the studio ceiling lights were changed. It would seem like way too much trouble and expense to change them all. Their color is a good match for the obvious photofloods in the studio. Curious that some scenes were done without the extra photofloods and seem...OK.

    I wonder why Tom Shepard wasn't involved in this. One of the supplements (Documentary Now!) mentions that TZS was at an early screening of the spoof + the docu, stood up, and deeply apologized for his behavior then. Perhaps he's a little gunshy of the whole thing now, being seen as the mean guy. Too bad, and they used his voice to end nearly every supplement.

    I don't see how anyone who hasn't seen the original would get anything about the parody. And why is there a 2-inch 16-track in the control room? And they show a NY skyline shot with the twin towers, which would put it after 1973. They got the wrong type of music stands....

    Oh, the "Company" cards in the CR? I thought they were seat holder cards.
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2021
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  11. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    I think that's probably the case in general. Globesman has some *very* specific references to Salesman, and I'm not sure how much people would get out of the former without having seen the latter.



    (Salesman is also out on Criterion Blu-ray, and is also highly recommended).
     
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  12. GLouie

    GLouie Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle
    The subtitles on BR Company are great and very complete - I found out a lot of new words and lines I never knew before.
     
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  13. GLouie

    GLouie Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle
    I'm sure there are editing liberties. Also look at how Elaine Stritch's clothes change:
    -"Company" about 2:30 (DVD time) in - tattersall shirt
    -in the diner about 22:00 - in blue stripe shirt with white collar
    -"Little Things" about 25:00, back in tattersall
    -"Side by Side" at 33' in tattersall
    -feeding her dog at 37:40 in tattersall, runs out of studio D (we think), and by 37:55 she has a black V-neck for "Ladies Who Lunch"
    -by 40', she is back in blue stripes/white collar for the last takes of Ladies.

    Also, Sondheim now says she was drinking brandy, when she (and TZS) said it was champagne.
     
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  14. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    Yeah, I noticed that the beverage seemed to change each time the story was told. I want to say a third kind was indicated in one of the recollections. Ah yes, Hal Prince indicates it was a "tub of wine".

    Creative editing aside, the different clothes on Stritch are interesting, and something I hadn't put any thought into before. It would certainly *seem* that at the very least she had the striped shirt on (at the diner), then changed into the black V-neck, then changed back into the striped shirt. I had thought that perhaps maybe some takes were attempted earlier in the day, but when Sondheim says they should go down a half tone, he specifically says she's been there for 14 hours.
     
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  15. GLouie

    GLouie Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle
    Funny how the Tunick interview reveals that a guitar mic was never connected, and cuts to Fred saying something like, "guitar right is off mic" and everyone ignores him. Tunick also thought it was done 16 track (disputed by TZS). He does mention Fred, TZS and 30th street, if obliquely.

    The subtitles misspell Jule Styne as Julie, twice, when Sondheim talks about not working on Ethel Merman's show. At least, I always understood he spelled it Jule and pronounced it Julie. Maybe some people spell it Julie.
     
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  16. GLouie

    GLouie Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle
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  17. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    Ignoring Plaut seems to be par for the course in the film. One wonders if the whole day was like that, or those bits just happened to be highlighted.

    Definitely 8-track. You can see the (1") Ampex AG-440-8 machines a few times. I'm thinking 30th Street didn't go 16-track until the new console was installed.

    No expert, but I'm only seeing "Julie" as a reference for pronunciation. Or an obvious typo.
     
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  18. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    "Never" seems much too extreme. I hear lots of guitar almost throughout the video, and it's certainly there in "Barcelona". I didn't understand that comment.

    And is Fred's comment about "guitar right" indicating that there's a "guitar left"? It did seem there was more than one kind of guitar, maybe.
     
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  19. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    Did they build that studio or was it already there and that's a reason they picked the location? The layout of the room was remarkably similar to 30th St. Of course that aspect wasn't mentioned in the article.

    Or maybe it's easy to put in a console with a long rack behind it.
     
  20. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    A guitar definitely seems to be on-mic in the final take, just right of center:



    It's also audible in the first take in the film, although it's not clear if that's actually take 1, or if Pennebaker just edited from the "take 1" slate in the control room to a different take out in the studio.

    Unfortunately, between Plaut's accent, the quickness of his comment, and the fact that he's being talked over, it's not totally clearly exactly what he's talking about.

    There were at least 2 guitars at the session. An acoustic and an electric (the latter which appears to be a turquoise Gibson SG). You can briefly see both during Another Hundred People.

    Nash Refinished Gibson SG Guitar - Ocean Turquoise
     
  21. GLouie

    GLouie Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle
    I don't know, but I'll guess that the studio was Clackamas' Niemeyer Center studio, but I've never been there and can't find any photos. I've asked Rod if he knows the studio. It did seem like a nice big studio. The control room shots could have been anyplace, suitably dressed. I don't think we ever get a full pan in the CR back to the window, do we? Or a good look into the CR from the studio shots?

    This IFC series apparently has history in Oregon and Clackamas. Fred Armisen is listed as a producer I believe, and he did his Portlandia series in...Portland. They must have a working relationship with the area for production.
     
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  22. GLouie

    GLouie Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle
    I suppose it's still possible one guitar mic was never connected. Funny how TZS also asks for more guitar at one point. So there's one hollowbody and one SG.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    The color of the SG seems lighter than Ocean turquoise?

    Another oddity, at 39:08 BluRay, Elaine's vocal cuts off, TZS asks what's that, - let's check "the chords" according to the subtitles.
     
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  23. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    Yeah, the one I posted a link to definitely isn't an exact match. The one in the film has kind of a stripe between the face and the tapered sections, which I'm not seeing anywhere. Maybe someone is an expert on SGs and can chime in.

    Chords or cords, that's another spot in the film where it's not clear what's actually going on. Someone (Hal Hastings?) says "I'd like to propose a toast" after the orchestra has already started, then Stritch seems to be off-mic, then she's loud and distorted, then she just cuts off. That mic is a U87, and I'm guessing Columbia didn't have boxes for phantom power. Maybe the batteries in the mic were dying?

    Although oddly, neither TZS nor Sondheim visibly react when all of this is happening. That tired, or audio and visual not synchronized?
     
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  24. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    ?? U87's take batteries?

    Columbia didn't have boxes for phantom power? What are those boxes sitting on the bottoms of the rolling mic stands for? I always assumed they were phantom power...

    Let's see if I can remember how to post pictures here: (Click for full size version, I think)

    [​IMG]
     
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  25. ad180

    ad180 Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    those are power supplies for tube-powered microphones, such as the U67 or the M49.
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2021

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