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November 18, 1987 - Image 52

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1987-11-18

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

7 S 1


~Ji~i3 jJb iJiĀ± li

ever before has so much
of the recorded history of
jazz been available. In
the past, as the popu-
larity of jazz surged and
bed, record companies would
riodically reissue old treas-
es and then drop them from
eir catalogs. Now it seems as
?very company is blowing the
ist off yesterday's master-
ices and rushing them into

record stores. To a certain ex-
tent this phenomenon has been
spurred by the compact-disc
boom, since classic jazz is some-
thing easily retrieved and re-
packaged for the music-hungry,
owners of CD players. And this
seems a good time to look back.
There is no dominant style in
jazz at the moment, and much
of the music'being produced in
today's conservative climate

draws heavily on past styles.
So, it may be easier now to lis-
ten with open ears to the efforts
of the old masters.
The bounty takes several
forms. Some albums, record-
ed and mixed using analog
equipment, are simply being
reissued on CD in addition to
other formats. A number of
companies, however, are clean-
ing up the sound of historic

material through digital re-
mastering. And, in some lucky
instances, companies are tak-
ing advantage of the compact
disc's longer playing time to add
bonus tracks that couldn't be fit
onto the original LP. It should
be noted that some reissues are
to be cherished for the remark-
able performances they immor-
talize, even when their sound
quality isn't pristine. Then, too,
there are treasures that have
never been taken out of circula-
tion, as well as brand-new work
by those greats still with us.
Providing a comprehensive
guide to jazz reissues isn't.
merely impractical-it's im-
possible. There's just too much.
To simplify, here's a thumbnail
guide, organized around some
of the geniuses of jazz.
Louis Armstrong. Jazz began in
New Orleans-and so did Arm-
strong, born there on July 4,
1900. After migrating north in
the early 1920s, Armstrong ex-
ploded the rigid Dixieland style
of his hometown with melod-
ic and rhythmic inventiveness.
On the first two volumes of
"The Louis Armstrong Story"
(both Columbia), you can hear
Armstrong, playing with his
Hot Five and Hot Seven, invent
a new musical vocabulary, first
on cornet and later on trum-
pet. His tone is extremely pow-
erful, his phrasing endlessly
imaginative, his sense of time
revolutionary. "The Genius of
Louis Armstrong" (Columbia),
a two-record set, packages some
of these songs with others re-
corded a few years before and
after-and thereby traces Arm-
strong's early development.
More recent reissues, taken
from later performances, bene-
fit from better recording quali-
ty and the cleaner sound of digi-
tal remastering, but the newer
records can't match the glory
of such older performances as
"Potato Head Blues."
Duke Ellington. The title of El-
lington's autobiography said it
well: "Music Is My Mistress."
And the instrument of his de-
votion was the one big band
that truly deserved to be called
an orchestra. Ellington could
paint a landscape ("Dusk") or
sketch a personality ("Bojan-
gles") through his complex ar-
rangements. Or he could sim-


Inventing a musical vocabulary:
Louis Armstrong (left) with
the Hot Five in the 1920s




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