Dean Benedetti
February 20, 2012 7:00 PM   Subscribe

On Saturday, March 1, 1947, at the Hi-De-Ho nightclub in Los Angeles, in a booth near the bandstand, Dean Benedetti switched on a Wells-Gardner disc cutter - starting what would become the most legendary jazz recordings in history. (400 KB PDF)

I expected that the recordings would not live up to my image of them. After all — even during the years when I “forgot” about them — there was the image of that sound catalog of amazing Charlie Parker solos night after night. But it did live up to the image, and in some ways it surpassed that image. There were those wonderful solos, unburdened by heads or other people’s lesser improvisations. They stood quite well in isolation, typically revealing the vehicle theme (by implication) and other “essentials” that really were not necessary, as Parker demonstrated. But there was more. There were some outstanding complete sets of music and an unexpected bonus of “bad” Parker. It was good to learn that Charlie Parker was human after all. The recordings demonstrated that, given enough drugs (or perhaps withholding them), Charlie Parker could sound downright mortal. I consider that set of recordings to be truly a treasure.
posted by Trurl (16 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
I would love to hear these. Are they truly only available for $112 for a set of CDs, or can they be listened to online anywhere?
posted by hippybear at 7:13 PM on February 20, 2012


No audio link?
posted by crapmatic at 7:21 PM on February 20, 2012


Here is a YouTube video.
posted by Trurl at 7:40 PM on February 20, 2012


Reading about music recordings is like writing about architects doing the pas de deux at a sound engineer's convention attended by Julliard students disguised as Frank Zappa.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:13 PM on February 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Charlie Parker could sound downright mortal.

Don't you blaspheme in here! Don't you BLASPHEME in HERE!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:14 PM on February 20, 2012 [10 favorites]


Did anyone else read disc cutter as disc sander? No? Just me? Carry on then.
posted by whyareyouatriangle at 9:02 PM on February 20, 2012


Evidence suggests that the impact of sound recording on the development of jazz generally has been negative — not because sound recordings are inherently negative products but because we have allowed or caused them to be negative. Shovels are used to dig holes. In that capacity, they are useful tools. If people primarily used shovels as weapons, we would have different feelings about shovels. And so it is regarding my feelings about sound documents of jazz performance. Of course, it is difficult to assess the extent of the damage done to jazz by sound recordings.

As thus the typewriter has also had a negative effect on writing.

What he says about jazz could be said even more strongly about the blues, but without the recordings most of us wouldn't know this music at all. Anyway, I think everyone knows the difference between a studio recording and a live recording. They are complements not comparisons.
posted by three blind mice at 9:37 PM on February 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Reading about music recordings is like writing about architects doing the pas de deux at a sound engineer's convention attended by Julliard students disguised as Frank Zappa.
flapjax, have you seen/read any of the 33 1/3 series of books on seminal albums?
posted by gen at 10:07 PM on February 20, 2012


There were those wonderful solos, unburdened by heads or other people’s lesser improvisations.

"Heads," if you don't know, are basically the melodies of the songs that set the stage for improvisation. This statement is essentially saying the solos themselves are best enjoyed without the actual songs or other people getting in the way. Puzzling take on music, that.

I'm not sure I can bear to read the entire thing but if "Evidence suggests that the impact of sound recording on the development of jazz generally has been negative".... first of all, what evidence proves or disproves an opinion? Secondly, you're telling me that Jazz is worse for progressing from dixieland to Coltrane, Monk, electric Miles, Herbie Hancock?

Hell, I don't even like jazz and I call nonsense.
posted by tremspeed at 12:49 AM on February 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Evidence suggests that the impact of sound recording on the development of jazz generally has been negative

Maybe what he's trying to get at is that recordings are a lo-fidelity (compared to being there), one-time frozen performance. Much as a snapshot of a scenic view taken while travelling is almost always a let-down when you get back home. The people, the setting, the acoustic and visual and olfactory ambience, the set of feelings inspired by being there in person - incapable of evoking that same sense of living presence, acuity and in-the-moment.

A performance is a once-in-all-time thing. Each is different, each reveals different aspects of the music and of the performer. Who, with the time and money, wouldn't prefer to listen to music performed live?

Whereas each time we listen to a recording, it's something like looking at a stuffed bird. And the more we hear it, as it becomes more familiar, our experience of it becomes predictable. And more and more of a kind of disappointment.
posted by Twang at 1:22 AM on February 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


For me, the biggest drawback to the Dean Benedetti is the terrible sound quality to a lot of it. It's like listening to Parker over the phone that has a bad connection.
posted by freakazoid at 4:07 AM on February 21, 2012


Audio link

Phil Schaap has a regular jazz show on WKCR called Bird Flight in which the Dean Benedetti recordings play a prominent role. Phil has the most amazing collection of Bird recordings and cycles through them in largely chronological order over months adding in commentary on Bird, the recordings, etc.
posted by caddis at 4:13 AM on February 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


Great post. The long essay, glibly dismissed above several times, was very interesting. I also did not know that Benedetti had been so badly slandered by Russell's bio.
posted by thelonius at 8:06 AM on February 21, 2012


Yes, this is a great post. I am just noticing today that Trurl was responsible for a large number of posts that I liked over the past few months, and that as for music, oh boy there is some good stuff there.
posted by caddis at 10:55 AM on February 21, 2012


Phil Schaap has a regular jazz show on WKCR called Bird Flight in which the Dean Benedetti recordings play a prominent role.

caddis, that is one of the oddest music shows on radio. If Phil isn't autistic, he's... something off the charts.

The man can talk in a monotone, dry voice about the type of lettuce on Bird's sandwich the afternoon of August 15, 1952, and how it must have affected the later (August 16 all the way through the afternoon of August 19, notwithstanding the evening of August 17, which saw Bird briefly coughing into a microphone before announcing he was too high to continue, and then proceeding to push out what is one of the, if not the, most congenial version of Salt Peanut we have on record today) recordings of that week.

I can never quite tell if I love or loathe him. Hard to turn it off, though.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:40 PM on February 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Whereas each time we listen to a recording, it's something like looking at a stuffed bird. And the more we hear it, as it becomes more familiar, our experience of it becomes predictable. And more and more of a kind of disappointment.

Yet, Jazz became MUCH weirder, more improv based, and less predictable after recordings became a standard thing. I mean, free jazz?

I will backtrack a little bit though. Knowing that the author is pretty much exclusively interested in Charlie Parker makes his viewpoint a little more understandable.
posted by tremspeed at 8:01 PM on February 21, 2012


« Older Are the X-Men Human?...  |  Finite Films takes your idea f... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments