The Complete Library of Congress Recordings By Alan Lomax Box set, Original recording remastered, Restored
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BACK IN STOCK! Due to the complexity of the boxset and the unerring eye for detail required to reproduce this exquiste, Grammy Award winning set, there has been a lengthy delay in getting a repress manufactured. April 17th will see the collection back in stock and in store so please make sure you get your orders in! The stories and songs on these recordings are a document of the big bang of jazz music at the dawn of the 20th Century. New Orleans composer, pianist and pool shark Jelly Roll Morton was one of the key figures in the creation of jazz. Alan Lomax was the visionary folklorist who created a legacy that illuminated roots music sounds from around the world. Together, in 1938 at the Library of Congress, they made these groundbreaking recordings - the first recorded oral history in jazz. Jelly Roll's earthy and remarkably detailed stories of the milieu that surrounded the formation of jazz music are punctuated with his musical illustrations and stunning solo piano versions of his best-known compositions. The dandies, piano players, prostitutes, hustlers and musical legends that populated Jelly Roll's world are brought to life in this riveting narrative, an essential document of American culture. * The first complete and unexpurgated release of the 1938 Library of Congress recordings, on 7 compact discs, plus a bonus disc of interviews of Jelly Roll Morton's peers by Alan Lomax * Remastered from the original acetate discs at the Library of Congress using Sony Direct Stream Digital technology, and restored using the Cedar Cambridge system. * Includes Alan Lomax's acclaimed biography, Mister Jelly Roll, plus a new 80-page book with an appreciation by John Szwed and many rare photographs. * Expanded liner notes and new comprehensive transcription, with Alan Lomax's hand-written annotations, included as an Adobe PDF document.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
These are not for everyone. Someone just wanting to sample Jelly's music should buy a Red Hot Peppers CD. Jelly's language, in places, is not fit for young children or the faint of heart, particularly in sessions in which he had consumed a fair amount of whisky while recording. But this is a historic set of recordings. It is a first hand account of a largely undocumented world that existed a century ago and still has a profound effect on present day jazz and popular music. The speed has been corrected and the sound is much improved over the old Circle and Riverside issues.
I think it was Danny Barker who pointed out that Jelly was the product of an era in which there weren't publicists, so he can be excused if he engages in self-promoting hyperbole. While not everything Jelly says is the gospel truth, others have pointed out that many of the things he described have been authenticated by totally independent sources. Jelly may not have been the inventor of jazz, as he claimed, but he is probably closer than any other person. He was a generation earlier than Louis and Bix, and is one of the few primary sources of jazz prehistory.
I think everyone seriously interested in early jazz should consider this set. It is a monumental historic document in the field of jazz. For the price of an evening at a good restaurant, you get eight CD's, a copy of the Lomax book, and a new booklet which I must confess I have not read yet since I only have had the set for a couple of days.
I did notice a couple of things that might be corrected if there is another edition. The tracks on the CDs are in the order as stated in the printed material, but if played on a computer, some of the track names are wrong. Also, on Disk 8, in addition to the material that is supposed to be there, there is a repeat of an earlier track in which Jelly talks about Tony Jackson. These are minor items and shouldn't put anyone off from buying the set.
Rounder is to be congratulated. 67 years after the recording of a historic and entertaining document, we finally get to hear the whole thing at the correct speed and with much better sound than the earlier excerpted versions.
The only peeve I really have is in the MP3 version the continuity of the narrative and music is broken by pauses between tracks. That is a lot more irritating to me than the sound quality.
My reason for five stars is the ability to listen to nearly nine hours of narrative from someone who was around when jazz was being born. Yes, Morton was known to stretch facts to suit him, but his ability to cite other musicians, songs and even discuss his approach to music is the true value of these recordings - dare I call them the pearls?
One of the interesting things that my pianist who listened to this set with me pointed out was when Morton was talking he was invariably playing or vamping on his piano during the narrative. When he was talking about dark events he would use minor chords, and on better memories he would switch to a major key. Personally, I was taken by his many memories of various musicians and his ability to recreate their playing styles during the music demonstrations. It reminds me a lot of The Drums! Papa Jo Jones. However, Lomax served as an interviewer on these sessions whereas the Jo Jones piece was a soliloquy.
If you are a musician, music historian or even interested in then period covered (1890s through 1930s) then this is an invaluable oral history by someone why was really there. He did not do everything claimed in these recordings, but he certainly knew many of the folks whom he mentions, and also has some incredible insights into personalities, events and music that are well worth listening and considering.