Questions to Chris Albertson

Ansicht von 15 Beiträgen - 1 bis 15 (von insgesamt 24)
  • Autor
    Beiträge
  • #67863  | PERMALINK

    redbeansandrice

    Registriert seit: 14.08.2009

    Beiträge: 7,027

    The great Chris Albertson – who signed up last week to post in the thread about his rediscovery Lonnie Johnson – kindly agreed to a thread with questions to him – so i’m starting one… Chris should not need an introduction but maybe he does. Born in Iceland and emigrated to the US, he has worked as a radio presenter, writer and producer, mostly in the fields of jazz and blues. I, too had long been unfamiliar with his name, but once you know the name, it starts to pop up a lot and in various places. Just going from my own listening of last week, there was a late Gene Ammons album with liner notes by Chris plus Joe McPhee’s Survival Unit II, recorded and annotated by Chris… He worked as a producer for both Riverside and Prestige, he has received and smashed two grammies… I will not reiterate more of his biography here, a concise overview is in his wikipedia article, many fine details are on his continuously growing blog, one of few blogs I visit on a regular basis for the great stories and scans of priceless documents…

    __________________

    Chris hat im Lonnie Johnson Thread bewiesen, dass sein Deutsch wirklich sehr ordentlich ist – aber Englisch bietet sich für diesen Thread wohl trotzdem mehr an… Es wäre toll, wenn auch andere hier ihre Fragen posten würden…

    --

    .
    Highlights von Rolling-Stone.de
    Werbung
    #7513693  | PERMALINK

    redbeansandrice

    Registriert seit: 14.08.2009

    Beiträge: 7,027

    So for a first question… one thing that has „puzzled“ us here quite a bit in the last few weeks was the Prestige label… (for which you worked only a brief time, but still) i find it hard to make this one single question so instead this bunch of stuff:

    If you read, say, the german wikipedia article on Prestige you get the impression that (stylized) Bob Weinstock drove to New York got together six or seven junkies, drove them to the Van Gelder Studio where Mal Waldron or Teddy Charles was already waiting with a bunch of arrangements which were then recorded without rehearsal. What’s (most) wrong with this story? How independent were the single producers like you, Don Schlitten, Esmond Edwards… it’s remarkable that often production, some compositions, photographs and cover design came from one and the same person which vaguely suggests that there was a lot of independence… true? more than elsewhere? How much did artists influence things like recorded material, line-ups, sequencing, cover art… for instance, could John Coltrane have said „I’d like to have Hank Jones on my next album.“ or was this type of thing highly uncommon then (and why…)

    edit: nail75 rightly pointed out an unfair imprecision: the above collection of clichees about Prestige is only very partially taken from the wikipedia entry, i’ve read all of it more than once in various places but only some of it there…

    --

    .
    #7513695  | PERMALINK

    chris-albertson

    Registriert seit: 20.02.2010

    Beiträge: 12

    Thank you for all that you have said about me. I will try to live up to it!

    As for Prestige, first bear in mind that Bob Weinstock used to have his office in Manhattan. He once told me that he had moved it to New Jersey because he wanted to distance himself from musicians who sought him out for cash advances. This was a period when heavy drug use was all too common among musicians. I remember having to pass two to four of them each time I walked through the reception room at Riverside. Bill Evans and Philly Jo Jones were among the regulars,as was Chet Baker, who actually stole blank checks from Bill Grauer’s office. When Bill found out, he could have had Chet arrested, instead, he told him that he owed the label an album. I believe the result was „Chet Baker with Fifty Italian Strings.“

    You can be sure that Bob never looked for „junkies“ to record, and there were neither accompanists nor composers waiting in Rudy’s home, where the first sessions took place. I don’t know how such stories get started, but they are false.

    We did not have total freedom to record whoever we wished. Bob had to approve the session(s), but once we had the nod from him, he stayed away and gave us the freedom to put a session together our own way. Budget was always a problem, so it was just natural for Esmond and Don Schlitten to use their cameras. I don’t know how the other producers worked, but I always listened to the ideas of those whose name was going on the album. I suspect that others did the same, although I do recall Sylvia Syms complaining about the bass player on an album I was writing notes for. She begged me to as Bob if she could do the sessions over again, with no additional fee to her. Bob said no, he did not want to spend more money on that particular album, nor did he want to interfere with Esmond’s work.

    If an artist like Coltrane wanted to record with a certain musician, he would very likely get his wish—it might depend on whether that musician would add unreasonably to the cost, but, artistically? Sure, it would make sense to let Coltrane have his way.

    I hope this helps to correct someone’s Wikipedian fantasy!

    --

    #7513697  | PERMALINK

    gypsy-tail-wind
    Moderator
    Biomasse

    Registriert seit: 25.01.2010

    Beiträge: 48,361

    Chris, great that you’re offering this opportunity to us here!
    This is „king ubu“ from you know where else… :-)

    We’ve been discussing the yesterday that many labels in the 50s and 60s recorded their artists in much shorter intervals than they could possibly (and economically feasible) release the recordings.
    This applies, for instance, to Coltrane or Jackie McLean on Prestige, or musicians such as Grant Green and Andrew Hill on Blue Note.

    The legends go that McLean often just needed a fix so the summoned up some guys at RVG’s in order to get him some cash… I guess that’s another of those half-truths?

    Can you shed some light? How much of this was to document music, how much of it to make sure the label would still have future releases to come, once the artists would have moved on?
    Prestige and Atlantic, for instance, continued to release Coltrane albums way into the 60s, and while it was probably very hard for „Coltrane’s Sound“ to stand opposite of, say „Live at Birdland“ or „Crescent“ (which I assume came out around ’64 as well or were then rather recent releases), in hindsight, „Coltrane’s Sound“, restored to its proper place in fall 1960, is a marvellous album!
    So we fans are, I guess, mostly very happy about this practice, but I guess there was more to it than just a producer who knew something important was being captured, so he took chances to document as much of it as possible?

    Sorry, this got a bit lengthy, but if you can shed some light on these questions or some aspects of it, that would be much appreciated!

    --

    "Don't play what the public want. You play what you want and let the public pick up on what you doin' -- even if it take them fifteen, twenty years." (Thelonious Monk) | Meine Sendungen auf Radio StoneFM - Corona-Extraprogramm im April und Mai: gypsy goes jazz, #99: The Real McCoy - McCoy Tyner (1938-2020), 14.4., 22:00; #100: Tenor Giants - Yusef Lateef (1920-2013), 12.5., 21:00 (2 Stunden!); #101: 9.6., 22:00 | Slow Drive to South Africa, #5: The Pain and Joy of ZA Jazz, 23.4., 22:00 | No Problem Saloon, #14: Funky Longtracks, 11.4., 20:30; #15: 28.4., 21:00
    #7513699  | PERMALINK

    katharsis

    Registriert seit: 05.11.2005

    Beiträge: 1,737

    Even if I don’t have any questions right now, I do appreciate your interesting answers. And the other guys do make a good job, asking some fine questions.
    So a warm welcome from my side…

    --

    "There is a wealth of musical richness in the air if we will only pay attention." Grachan Moncur III
    #7513701  | PERMALINK

    nail75

    Registriert seit: 16.10.2006

    Beiträge: 41,970

    Ich denke, wenn Foris fragen haben, aber davor zurückscheuen, sie auf Englisch zu stellen, können sie sie auch gerne auf Deutsch stellen. Es wird sich jemand finden, der ggf. übersetzt. :-)

    --

    Ohne Musik ist alles Leben ein Irrtum.
    #7513703  | PERMALINK

    Anonym
    Inaktiv

    Registriert seit: 01.01.1970

    Beiträge: 0

    nail75Ich denke, wenn Foris fragen haben, aber davor zurückscheuen, sie auf Englisch zu stellen, können sie sie auch gerne auf Deutsch stellen. Es wird sich jemand finden, der ggf. übersetzt. :-)

    Gewiss, aber Chris (Albertson) liest meines Erachtens Deutsch offenbar so gut, dass Übersetzen nicht wirklich notwendig ist (Bei unserer jüngsten Korrespondenz habe ich Deutsch geschrieben und Englisch gelesen und er Deutsch gelesen und Englisch geschrieben) – Aber Chris kann uns hier ja auch schreiben, ob ihm die deutschsprachige Lektüre so leicht fällt, dass er gar keine Übersetzung braucht.

    --

    #7513705  | PERMALINK

    nail75

    Registriert seit: 16.10.2006

    Beiträge: 41,970

    Deshalb schrieb ich ja gegegebenenfalls. :-)

    Vielen Dank an Dich und redbeansandrice für Eure Bemühungen und natürlich vor allem an Chris Albertson. :-)

    --

    Ohne Musik ist alles Leben ein Irrtum.
    #7513707  | PERMALINK

    Anonym
    Inaktiv

    Registriert seit: 01.01.1970

    Beiträge: 0

    nail75Deshalb schrieb ich ja gegegebenenfalls. :-)

    Danke! – Deine Anregung kam wie gerufen, um den LeserInnen den Schrecken des Englischsprachigen zu nehmen (Schließlich schreibe auch ich lieber Deutsch, obwohl ich erst im Vorjahr das „Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English, CAE“ (Council of Europe Level C1) mit „Grade B“ absolviert habe :-) – und daher das Englischschreiben bei jeder sich bietenden Gelegenheit pflegen sollte ;-)).

    Am besten Chris sagt uns, ob er weiter mit der deutschsprachigen Lektüre leben kann oder das Angelsächsische bevorzugt.

    P.S.: Übrigens schöne Diskussion, die ihr in den Die besten Prestige Alben bzw. Die besten Blue Note Alben etc. führt.

    --

    #7513709  | PERMALINK

    redbeansandrice

    Registriert seit: 14.08.2009

    Beiträge: 7,027

    Ich dachte, englisch geht schon irgendwie für fast alle und es ist gastfreundlicher … aber wie ihr meint!

    thank you very much for your post, Chris – this was about the type of story i had hoped for… concerning gypsy tail wind’s question… when i read Gene Ammons discography a few days ago I was surprised that apparently they had enough albums „in the can“ to issue more or less a continuous stream of new albums through his seven years in prison… but comparing a bit, it seems this was just the effect of a policy of recording more than can be released (which is still a bit puzzling given the tight budgets you mention…)

    --

    .
    #7513711  | PERMALINK

    Anonym
    Inaktiv

    Registriert seit: 01.01.1970

    Beiträge: 0

    redbeansandriceIch dachte, englisch geht schon irgendwie für fast alle und es ist gastfreundlicher … aber wie ihr meint!

    Geht vermutlich eh – :-). Unsereins ist halt gelernter Germanist ;-) – und freut sich über Artikel wie den folgenden:

    Klaus Reichert: Weltverständnis auf Deutsch
    Deutsche Wissenschaftler sollten auf Deutsch schreiben. Sie riskieren sonst Verfälschungen und verzichten auf den formalen und lexikalischen Reichtum des Deutschen, sagt der Literaturwissenschaftler Klaus Reichert.
    http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,5119039,00.html

    Das soll jetzt aber kein Sprachdiskussions-Thread werden. – Daher rasch zurück zum Thread-Thema und unserem angelsächsischen Gast sowie den interessanten Fragen, die es schon gibt und die noch gestellt werden.

    --

    #7513713  | PERMALINK

    chris-albertson

    Registriert seit: 20.02.2010

    Beiträge: 12

    gypsy tail windChris, great that you’re offering this opportunity to us here!
    This is „king ubu“ from you know where else… :-)

    We’ve been discussing the yesterday that many labels in the 50s and 60s recorded their artists in much shorter intervals than they could possibly (and economically feasible) release the recordings.
    This applies, for instance, to Coltrane or Jackie McLean on Prestige, or musicians such as Grant Green and Andrew Hill on Blue Note.

    The legends go that McLean often just needed a fix so the summoned up some guys at RVG’s in order to get him some cash… I guess that’s another of those half-truths?

    Can you shed some light? How much of this was to document music, how much of it to make sure the label would still have future releases to come, once the artists would have moved on?
    Prestige and Atlantic, for instance, continued to release Coltrane albums way into the 60s, and while it was probably very hard for „Coltrane’s Sound“ to stand opposite of, say „Live at Birdland“ or „Crescent“ (which I assume came out around ’64 as well or were then rather recent releases), in hindsight, „Coltrane’s Sound“, restored to its proper place in fall 1960, is a marvellous album!
    So we fans are, I guess, mostly very happy about this practice, but I guess there was more to it than just a producer who knew something important was being captured, so he took chances to document as much of it as possible?

    Sorry, this got a bit lengthy, but if you can shed some light on these questions or some aspects of it, that would be much appreciated!

    Not long after Bill Grauer’s death, Riverside went out of business. Orrin Keepnews tried to keep it going, but the financial/marketing end of the business was not his expertise. At one point, after I left Riverside and after Bill’s death, Orrin had a computer (possibly just a terminal) installed (I recall it taking up a whole room). This system was fed sales data and was programmed to project sales so that the label knew how many albums to manufacture. The problem was that Orrin didn’t trust the machine’s recommendations so, essentially, this computer did little more than add to the already slender budget. I might add that RCA had a similar computer that told them which recordings to delete from the catalog and which to keep or order more pressings. Brad McKuen of Victor told me that the machine regularly suggested deleting a 45rpm release of that national anthem („Star Spangled Banner“), because it wasn’t selling. However, RCA thought this item belonged in the catalog, so they restored it each time.

    Getting back to Bill Grauer, one of the ways in which he kept the company going was underhanded. For one thing, far too many albums were produced and that number was compounded by the fact that separate mono and stereo releases were issued, so there were two of each, to begin with. One reason for issuing so many albums was that Riverside shipped to distributors before receiving actual orders. This resulted in many albums being returned (a right distributors had), but before that happened, Riverside had papers that showed large shipments to the distributors. These, although they represented false numbers, were used to impress banks and obtain loans. The returned albums were then dumped to bargain stores where, with a small hole drilled through the label, they were sold for something like a dollar.

    Bob Weinstock, who had a very good ear for the music, recognized early on the potential of Miles Davis being picked up by major label, so he recorded many more Miles sessions than the market called for and held on to these recordings until Columbia signed Miles and spent a lot of money promoting him. Then, with Miles firmly established by Columbia, Bob started issuing the material from his vault. He spent a little more money than usual on color covers, gave the albums salable titles (Miles Plays for Lovers, etc.), and rode on the coattails of Columbia. Bob’s profit margin was high. because he had recorded Miles for scale (i.e. the minimum required by the Musician’s Union).

    I know this happen regarding Miles, because Bob specifically told me about him, but I’m sure the same approach was applied to other artists.

    As for documenting the music, that’s a lofty raison d’etre, but sessions were mostly made for the profit they might generate. Of course much great music was documented in the process, but that was mostly an inevitable byproduct, as it were. Sure, many producers and musicians saw the need to preserve aspects of the music, to capture for posterity groups and individuals who stood out from the rest, but, basically, the record business is a business. Of course it behooved the record makers to produce music of lasting value. Jazz was known as a good catalog item, something that did not sell in overwhelming number upon release, but something that was somewhat timeless and could stay in the catalog for years. Many jazz recordings have quietly become million sellers by simply continuing to sell in various forms and under various names.

    Sorry to go on for so long, but I hope I have made some sense of it for you.

    --

    #7513715  | PERMALINK

    gypsy-tail-wind
    Moderator
    Biomasse

    Registriert seit: 25.01.2010

    Beiträge: 48,361

    Yes, that makes perfect sense! Actually I just added the „documentation“ paragraph not to appear like a cold-minded person :-)
    But I guess after all, business is business!

    That part about computers is interesting, I had no idea such „tools“ even existed back around 1960 or even somewhat earlier! I guess those were some kind of punchcard machines or something? Anyway, very interesting!

    --

    "Don't play what the public want. You play what you want and let the public pick up on what you doin' -- even if it take them fifteen, twenty years." (Thelonious Monk) | Meine Sendungen auf Radio StoneFM - Corona-Extraprogramm im April und Mai: gypsy goes jazz, #99: The Real McCoy - McCoy Tyner (1938-2020), 14.4., 22:00; #100: Tenor Giants - Yusef Lateef (1920-2013), 12.5., 21:00 (2 Stunden!); #101: 9.6., 22:00 | Slow Drive to South Africa, #5: The Pain and Joy of ZA Jazz, 23.4., 22:00 | No Problem Saloon, #14: Funky Longtracks, 11.4., 20:30; #15: 28.4., 21:00
    #7513717  | PERMALINK

    nail75

    Registriert seit: 16.10.2006

    Beiträge: 41,970

    Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions, Chris. While you were working for Prestige, how was the relationship with the guys at Blue Note? Was it friendly, respectful or was there a lot of animosity, because Prestige was basically doing a similar thing? I mean you were even recording in the same studio, so there probably was a lot of mutual contact.

    --

    Ohne Musik ist alles Leben ein Irrtum.
    #7513719  | PERMALINK

    chris-albertson

    Registriert seit: 20.02.2010

    Beiträge: 12

    Re: Early computers. Yes, I think they were punch cards, although I seem to recall seeing a terminal.

    Re: Blue Note. There was no animosity that I ever detected. Remember Blue Note, Riverside, Prestige, Atlantic, etc. were all labels started by record collectors who shared a deep interest in the music and had known each other for a long time. Nesuhi Ertegun came over to Riverside when I was editing my New Orleans sessions. He wanted to hear some of the tapes—nothing seemed odd or awkward about that. When Bill Grauer had his magazine, The Record Changer, much of it was devoted to collectors, who listed their discs for sale or swapping—Alfred Lion and the Ertegun brothers were regulars who listed there.

    It was friendly competition.

    --

Ansicht von 15 Beiträgen - 1 bis 15 (von insgesamt 24)

Schlagwörter: ,

Du musst angemeldet sein, um auf dieses Thema antworten zu können.