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.
That said, this is an absolutely invaluable historical document, and even though it's no longer as pleasurable to the ear, Jelly Roll is still Jelly Roll, and listening to his unexpurgated conversation is sublime and worth twenty times the price of admission.
The audio "restoration" here is vastly inferior to the 1993 Rounder issue of these sessions. Some pre-release apprehension arose when Rounder announced their use of the notorious Cedar remastering system for this 2005 edition. Concern was well-founded: the sound is thin, sharp and tinny. Even turning the treble response all the way down seems to have no effect. I've listened on different systems, with the same frustration--the material is great, but enjoyment is limited. The 1993 (music only) discs had a few minor speed/pitch inconsistencies, but the sound was rich and full, and made for pleasant listening.
This 2005 set does have some positive features. The booklet includes 25 pages of Morton's fascinating 1938 prose writings; another highlight is Disc 8, an audio/data CD with over 200 pages of written material, including a complete transcript of the Library of Congress interviews and other documents, enough to keep Morton scholars and enthusiasts busy for a while...
About the packaging: the box is rather unwieldy (shaped like a piano), a bit flimsy, and about twice as large as it should have been.
To conclude: a disappointing release (I recommend hanging on to those 1993 discs, if you have them). However, it contains much additional material (especially the data disc) essential to those interested in jazz history.