Recommendations- Building Benny Goodman Collection

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Ponso1966, Mar 2, 2019.

  1. misterjones

    misterjones Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York City
    I'm now very interested in your thoughts about the Membran set. If it sounds like it has some of the echo effect (even slight) then it might be a straight copy of the Past Perfect set. If not, then I suspect they have a common origin and Past Perfect decided to futz with the underlying recordings. If the latter, then the Membran set might the preferable of the two.
     
  2. misterjones

    misterjones Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York City
    One of my all-time favorite album covers . . . but the music unfortunately has the RCA echo effect.

    [​IMG]
     
  3. Dennis Metz

    Dennis Metz Born In A Motor City!

    Location:
    Fonthill, Ontario
    I have the Time Life Giants of Jazz and the RCA 16 LP boxes along wither the Capitol Story CD. Enjoying the TL set now:righton::cheers:
     
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  4. misterjones

    misterjones Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York City
    The Time-Life sets are excellent . . . at least the ones I have, which are:

    Woody Herman
    Bob Crosby
    Stan Kenton
    Harry James

    Correction - I have the yellow/brown “Big Band” sets. I don’t know the difference, but in any event my confidence in the quality of Time-Life LPs is high. I see the silver “Giants of Jazz” sets have an additional (total of three) record.
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2019
  5. ella_swings

    ella_swings Member

    Location:
    Pittsburgh, PA
    I'll post here as soon as I get it.
     
  6. ella_swings

    ella_swings Member

    Location:
    Pittsburgh, PA
    I have the LP version of this and do notice the "Orthophonic" effect, but it is not as bad as the aforementioned Glenn Miller Story. The inside of the cover has a note that reads:

    "About the Recordings: The sound on these records was enhanced by the application of "New Orthophonic" techniques and transfer methods which involve the extension of frequency and dynamic range. Master transfer from tape to disc was accomplished using a heated stylus to assure the smoothest possible groove and lowest over-all surface noise, and an automatic variable pitch method to reproduce as closely as possible the enhanced sound tape". Emphasis original.

    Interestingly, a side by side comparison with the 1970s 8x2 gatefolds makes it clear there was some click and pop removal done in the latter. I have a pristine copy of the 1950s set and there is some residual click and pop in it. It does, however, sound a bit crisper. There is definitely some muting at the high end of 1970s 8x2 set, although it is inconsistent. "Liza" for instance sounds identical between the two sets, with both having audible surface noise.
     
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  7. misterjones

    misterjones Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York City
    I prefer the 16-LP set for this reason. I find the 8x2 to be a bit on the muddy side.
     
  8. ella_swings

    ella_swings Member

    Location:
    Pittsburgh, PA
    I received the Membran 10-CD set "I Had to Do It" today. I am in the middle of making song-to-song comparisons, but the sound quality is nowhere nearly as bad as some of the reviewers of the set have indicated. The highs are muted, but there is little to no surface noise in the songs I've listened to. Much to my delight, this version does not have the truncated first few bars version of "Stompin' at the Savoy" that many RCA CDs used. Clearly that was a transcription error that flowed down to several subsequent products, oddly enough including the "Birth of Swing" set. Comparing those two sets (Membran to Birth) Savoy has much less "hiss" on the Membran set. Many would consider this a "muddy sound". I would agree, but tend to like when excessive hiss is removed. They may have gone a bit too far in removing the hiss, but there is too much on Savoy in the Birth of Swing set for my liking. Same for King Porter. That said, I hear no indication of the awful "Orthophonic" treatment. If it is there it is too minimal for me to hear (eg. I hear none of the trademark echo). I haven't yet listened to the tunes that pre-date the first Victor records. I plan to rip the last volume of the 8x2s from vinyl to complete this set and make it truly "The Complete Benny Goodman" on RCA on CD until such time I find the CD-unicorn set from Japan.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2019
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  9. ella_swings

    ella_swings Member

    Location:
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Further listening... "Sing, Sing, Sing" is almost unlistenable. Clearly they set a threshold for noise removal and didn't go back and check the final output. It is so dull and muddy, I have replaced it in my playlist with the RCA Bluebird single disc version (see image).
    [​IMG]
     
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  10. ella_swings

    ella_swings Member

    Location:
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Just now realized, after all these years, that there are two distinct studio versions of Sing, Sing, Sing on RCA Victor. One version is on Vol. 4 and a completely different "unissued" version on Vol. 8.
     
  11. misterjones

    misterjones Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York City
    I like the sound of that CD and the other Bluebird CDs in that series. They could have been better, I suppose, but they sure could have sounded worse. The Artie Shaw CD might be the best of the bunch.
     
  12. Robert C

    Robert C Sound Archivist

    Location:
    London, UK
    Wasn't "New Orthophonic" just RCA's term for (what became) the RIAA curve?
     
  13. ella_swings

    ella_swings Member

    Location:
    Pittsburgh, PA
    My final thoughts on the Membran set now that I've gotten through them and cross-referenced and track compared the track list against "The Complete Benny Goodman" 8x2 gatefolds/16Lp box on Bluebird and/or "The Birth of Swing", also on Bluebird:
    1. Coverage: There are many tracks missing from the Membran set, such that it is not a complete replacement for the Bluebird set(s). Most of the songs from Bluebird sets that are missing can be reconstructed digitally from "The Complete RCA Victor Small Group Recordings". It appears that Membran simply left those out. The last volume (Vol. 8) of the Bluebird 8x2s is completely missing from the Membran set. Also missing are many (about half) tracks on Vol. 7 and about 5 tracks on Vol. 6. I can't find digital replacements for many of these tracks, although anyone with the "Chronological" CDs would surely have them. That being said, the Membran set has many, many tracks that are hard to find digitally. MANY. Essentially, "The Birth of Swing" covers the first volume and a half of the 8x2s and "The Complete Small Groups" covers, well, the small group stuff. There is MUCH from the "middle" period of the Victor years that is hard to find digitally. One bonus for me is that the first disc of the set includes some of the rarer Columbia recordings and other pre-Victor sides. On coverage alone, the Membran set is worth purchase for complete-ists or anyone who really enjoys the Victor years.
    2. Sound: Note well, I am not an audiophile and prefer poorly mastered recordings over no recordings at all. That said, this is a muddy set -no question about it. Some parts of the mud are much better than others. Sing, Sing, Sing is unlistenable, but most other tracks are ok. A heavy hand (digitally speaking) was used to remove the top end of the sound, as in most if not all of the top end (the highs). Clearly, the goal was surface noise and hiss removal over leaving any top end to the recordings. If this sort of thing bothers you, you will want to look elsewhere. On sound quality, I would recommend this set only if: a) you're a complete-ist, b) love the Victor years and don't have these digitally, or c) muddy sound doesn't bother you much.
    3: Value: here is where the set wins. I got my copy from Amazon directly for $9.99. There is simply no other way to get this volume of recordings for the price. Or at least none that I know of yet. If you were lucky (and wealthy) enough to get every Chronological CD, this purchase would not be justified by sound quality or coverage. If, however, you need a collection-filler, love the Victor years, or just mildly like Benny Goodman, this set is a no-brainer for the money. On value: this set is clearly a winner.

    Overall verdict: The sound quality will be a deal breaker for many people, but at ~US$10-20.00, anyone with a mild interest in Benny Goodman should pick this set up before it disappears. Amazon was in short stock when I purchased, but I saw several used at the time of writing (Oct. 2019).
     
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  14. misterjones

    misterjones Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York City
    Excellent analysis! Thanks.

    I find it amazing that there has never been anything resembling a comprehensive set of this material released on CD in the US or Europe other than the Membran or Past Perfect sets. I’m sure it won’t come from Mosaic, as there seems to have been some tension between them and the Goodman estate with respect to the Savory recordings. If the owners of the rights are holding out for big payday, I don’t think the market is there anymore.
     
  15. ella_swings

    ella_swings Member

    Location:
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Is anyone familiar with the "Unheard Benny Goodman" Lp set on Blu-Disc Records? Did any/all of those tracks make it onto the Columbia/Okeh Mosaic box or do they remain "unheard"?
     
  16. misterjones

    misterjones Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York City
    Query whether this or the “Alternate Benny Goodman” LPs are the way to go for this material. If I recollect correctly, which is always a question, those ABG records were being issued in Europe while Goodman was alive, and he initially was OK with it. I concluded without a close comparison that these were Columbia outtakes and (with the exception of the vocal and small group tracks) were sufficiently duplicated on the Mosaic set for me to not be interested .

    I am unsure of the SQ of any of these unofficial outtakes.
     
  17. ella_swings

    ella_swings Member

    Location:
    Pittsburgh, PA
    I've seen the Alternate Benny Goodman discs. Most of those tracks did make it onto the Columbia/Okeh Mosaic set. I'll have to cross-reference the catalog numbers to be sure.
     
  18. misterjones

    misterjones Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York City
    I’m glad I revisited this thread. I was considering buying the Sunbeam LPs. I had temporarily forgotten the discussion here. Now the question for me is whether the Jasmine CD set is a significant upgrade over the fairly decent sounding version on Spotify. Any thoughts?

    EDIT - A little research on my part indicates that only the Jasmine and Sunbeam collections are complete. The version on Spotify and another one I saw on line has only half of the tracks.
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2019 at 11:43 AM
  19. ella_swings

    ella_swings Member

    Location:
    Pittsburgh, PA
    I have both the Sunbeam LPs and the Jasmine CD and if I had gotten the Jasmine CD first, I never would have bought the Sunbeams. The surface noise is awful on that set. The Jasmine CD is a far better choice.
     
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  20. misterjones

    misterjones Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York City
    Thanks for the info. I bought the Jasmine CDs mostly because of its completeness. Had the full 50 tracks been available on Spotify, I probably would have contented myself with that. I couldn't resist the thought of 25 or so Goodman tracks I have never heard before.

    On another note, I recently bought an interesting 10" LP (in just about as good a condition as is possible for such 60+ year-old records) of even earlier Goodman:

    [​IMG]
     
  21. ella_swings

    ella_swings Member

    Location:
    Pittsburgh, PA
    That's frightening! I just yesterday bought this exact disc at my local record shop (Jerry's on Murray Ave. in Pgh). All selections are also available on Sunbeam-136.
     
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  22. misterjones

    misterjones Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York City
    Great minds think alike.

    I think the sound is pretty good on the LP. I have two other "X" LPs. I think I'll dust them off and give them a listen.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     

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