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Where is volume 4?,
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This review is from: Swinging Dixie (Audio CD)
I had this CD set delivered to me recently. These are recordings I am familiar with, pertaining to a time when Al Hirt was playing "uncompromised" dixieland, despite all the harsh criticisms he had from jazz critics in the distant past.
Audio Fidelity made sure that you would listen to Al and his band in the best way possible. The label was owned by someone who was devoted to stereophonic music and to several world-wide musical genres. Sidney Frey was in fact the person who sponsored the historic bossa nova concert at the Carnegie Hall in 1962.
Audio Fidelity had a presence in Brazil in the 1950's/1960's, and thus many of these recordings were issued in Lp format locally. After they left, they gave their representation to Som Indústria e Comércio (a.k.a. Copacabana Records). As a result, some of the original albums were re-released on Lp and on CD a few years later.
Al Hirt at Dan's Pier 600, the Swingin' Dixie vol. 1 was one that made to CD. It was manufactured in Manaus (north of the country) by Sonopress. It is reasonable to assume that they used the same master tape that was used for the Lp version, because in both of them the left and right channels are reversed, I don't really know why. And I know they are reversed because I happened to own the original 7 1/2 i.p.s. 4-track open reel tape, so that comparisons were made obvious for me.
During my Lp era I had all the four volumes of the Swingin' Dixie series, three of them never released to CD, even by Som themselves. In the mid-1990s I had already lost all my hope to see these recordings back on CD, so I made an effort to transfer those Lps to my PC, clean them up and transfer to CD-R meticulously.
I also recently transferred experimentally the Dan Pier's tape and the corresponding Som CD with the channels back to the original order to the PC and upsampled them to 192/24 PCM. The tape had had some wear, so the DVD-Audio version of the CD was kept in my collection.
Needless to say, Jasmine's initiative to get those recordings back is highly commendable. As soon as I saw the pre-order I readily noticed that Jasmine did not issue the 4th volume, which, by the way, is one of the best of the series. I wrote an e-mail to them, but they did not answer me back. At least I would have known the reason why the album was missing, and if they ever are planning to get it back too.
As for Jasmine's transfer, the sound is way better than the original albums or than the 7 1/2 i.p.s. tape, for that matter, but similar to the Som CD version. The latter is not so well resolved, so the Jasmine version is the one to keep. The transfer also shows that Audio Fidelity was not completely reproducible in sound mixing. Vol. 1 sounds better that volumes 2 and 3, where some bass content is clearly missing, also in the Lp versions. On volume 4, the mixing varies from track to track.
The CD set leaflet includes the musician's list, but not where the recordings were made. Since Audio Fidelity used more than one studio location, this information would be proved valuable to audio buffs.
Despite vol. 4 missing I would still recommend this set to anyone interested in good music and to serious vintage recordings of the past. And I would like to thank Jasmine for the effort to bring them back.