Recent acquisition allows comparison CDs, JRT Timeless with RCA Bluebird,
ODJB Victors. The latter, a scholarly issue, claims pitch rectification. JRT
always did rectify as far as I know. However, only on 5 tracks are the
timings similar. 8 have the RCA slower, 6 faster, both by from 1-3 secs. But
4 tracks show a large disparity, with the RCA consistently around 10 sec
faster, approx. a 5% speed differential. The tracks are Margie, Palesteena,
Home Again Blues, Crazy Blues.
My pitch is not good enough to make listening conclusive but the sound of
Benny Krueger's alto does sound even nearer to sop. on these tracks than
elsewhere, also the trombone is suspiciously high. So I reckon that JRT, as
usual, got it right. I guess it is possible to check pitch electronically
these days and how did JRT do it, still with his very good ear ?
Generally, the Timeless is preferable, more detail, more top and bottom and
I particularly note the startling presence of the bass drum on the earliest
tracks, my floor shook and these are 1917 acoustics. Whatever happened to
the notion that early drummers could not record their full kit ? The RCA
also suffers the disadvantage of NoNoise although the underlying converted
surface chunter is not as intrusive as in many issues. However,
subjectively, the sound --the tone --of the instruments is fuller, richer ,
more 'real' on the RCA, particularly noticeable on La Rocca's cornet, which
never have I heard so impressively, and Shields clarinet. I guess this
indicates that there are no definitive issues and that alternative versions
of such seminal works are desirable.
I cannot end without comment on the music. Generally extremely fine and
worthy of far greater esteem than the critics of the post-war generation
allowed. 'Margie', floating along at the slower JRT tempo is a particularly
fine track in no way ,to me, demanding the 'listless ' label bestowed upon
it by the renowned Max Harrison in 'Essential Jazz Records'-1.
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