Preface #1, which can be found in full length at Rifftides:
“Radio was the tiny stream it all began with. Then came other technical means for reproducing, proliferating, amplifying sound, and the stream became an enormous river.
If in the past people would listen to music out of love for music, nowadays it roars everywhere and all the time, “regardless whether we want to hear it,” it roars from loudspeakers, in cars, in restaurants, in elevators, in the streets, in waiting rooms, in gyms, in the earpieces of Walkmans, music rewritten, reorchestrated, abridged, and stretched out, fragments of rock, of jazz, of opera, a flood of everything jumbled together so that we don’t know who composed it (music become noise is anonymous), so that we can’t tell beginning from end (music become noise has no form): sewage-water music in which music is dying.”
By Milan Kundera, Ignorance
Today’s “radio” has almost nothing to do with the great experience of real “listening” to music, to a political reportage, or to a sports event in the early days of the medium.
I was lucky, because for me, radio was still a horn of plenty, then, in the mid to late 1970’s when I started diggin’ jazz.
This changed very soon, let’s say, it started to change radically in the mid-1980’s, when the first commercial TV stations went on the air.
This post is about my very first experiences I had with radio, with jazz on the radio in particular.
Blog owner’s note: I’m definitely *not* talking about internet radio, which is not *the* radio as others and I understand it: Streaming sounds in bits & bytes can’t substitute a full-frequency stereo signal; never ever!
Here’s my comment to the subject, I’ve posted at Rifftides as I “composed” this article (it’s for the readers who would like to stay here for a little while):
When I turned on the radio between 1978 to 1985, it was inspiring & informative, which was all I needed for my musical learning progress. I recorded loads of 1-hour jazz musicians’ profiles on tapes, on cassettes, to be precise.
On the 10th anniversary of Duke Ellington’s death, young folks like me had the chance to find at least a dozen broadcasts covering not only his whole recording career from 1924 to 1974, but they were also focussing on specific aspects of his work:
“The Duke Ellington Suites”, “The DE Small Bands”, “The DE Carnegie Hall Concerts”, “DE As A Pianist”, etc. — In Germany’s radio culture of the 21st Century, this would hardly be possible.
Particularly jazz radio is mostly about the newest release by X, Y, or Z, but it doesn’t care for “education” anymore; to find something of jazz historical content is almost impossible, and if there are such kind of “old fashioned” jazz broadcasts, they would be aired long after midnight; just as if they would like to hide those precious sounds (the great big bands are filed under “easy listening”, to name just one of hundreds of misinterpretations).
The very same goes for New Music, or anything which would be off the mainstream, or subculture, or only “too inconvenient for the average listener”.
And the worst is: They don’t give a damn. It’s almost impossible to find a common theme: Everything is cut down to digestible nibbles à la “No! Don’t let us overtax the listener.”
Maybe I’m sounding too pessimistic, too emotional perhaps? Well, music is about emotion, it should not degenerate to “Muzak”.
Every time I’m visiting the dentist of my trust, he is turning off the radio. Why? Because I told him he would lose a patient if he wouldn’t turn off that crappy “Radio Köln” station.
Especially as a trumpeter you need an able, a focused dentist, who is not distracted by annoying commercials which are always louder than the actual “music”.
Here now, the unaltered original thread from April 4, 2011:
Dear swingin’ folks –
This post could be all about Margie, alas it won’t. — My first experience with Margie occurred when I was in the tender age of 15. I got a cassette recorder for Christmas, or was it my birthday? I don’t remember.
It might have been the year 1978, the 40th anniversary of the famous Carnegie Hall Concert, January 16, 1938.
What I remember, is, that I had a portable radio too. I’d put the tape recorder with the inbuilt microphone close to the radio speaker and pushed the ‘record’ button as soon as I heard big band swing in the Süddeutscher Rundfunk.
Among them very first jazz sounds I had recorded this way, was a broadcast, a quite short radio portrait on Benny Goodman. One of the featured tunes was … yeah, you got it! It was my beloved Margie, played in a great big swinging way by Benny Goodman & His Orchestra! — Harry James – whom I didn’t know then – soloed on trumpet.
The sound of the cassette was below Lo-Fi. To be honest: it was a torture to listen to it. But it was all I had. And I listened to it over and over, again and again. Blog owner’s note: a sample of the original tape can be heard on the below playlist.
That’s how those cassettes looked like in the late 1970’s:
After some bad experiences with the FerroSuper formate, I changed to Chromdioxid cassettes like this:
The tunes were: Riffin’ At The Ritz (Benny plays lead alto sax), Margie, Russian Lullaby and a version of King Porter Stomp I got crazy over since I couldn’t find it anywhere until a friend of mine, one of the moderators of BBT, gave me the clue: it was recorded for the soundtrack to The Benny Goodman Story. But my search for the original sounds of that broadcast is another story and will be told later.
I still have that very tape. And I still love that tune, I still love Margie. Maybe, one day I’ll play the definitive version ;) Maybe!
I’ll let you know, and so: stay tuned!
BREW’s FIRST BEE GEE, or: A reconstructed radio portrait of Benny Goodman