Pressed for All Time: Producing the Great Jazz Albums from Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday to Miles Davis and Diana Krall

Pressed for All Time: Producing the Great Jazz Albums from Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday to Miles Davis and Diana Krall

Pressed for All Time: Producing the Great Jazz Albums from Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday to Miles Davis and Diana Krall

Pressed for All Time: Producing the Great Jazz Albums from Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday to Miles Davis and Diana Krall

Synopsis

In histories of music, producers tend to fall by the wayside--generally unknown and seldom acknowledged. But without them and their contributions to the art form, we'd have little on record of some of the most important music ever created. Discover the stories behind some of jazz's best-selling and most influential albums in this collection of oral histories gathered by music scholar and writer Michael Jarrett. Drawing together interviews with over fifty producers, musicians, engineers, and label executives, Jarrett shines a light on the world of making jazz records by letting his subjects tell their own stories and share their experiences in creating the American jazz canon.

Packed with fascinating stories and fresh perspectives on over 200 albums and artists, including legends such as Louis Armstrong, John Coltrane, and Miles Davis, as well as contemporary artists such as Diana Krall and Norah Jones, Pressed for All Time tells the unknown stories of the men and women who helped to shape the quintessential American sound.

Excerpt

If every word in this book did not come from interviews I conducted over the last twenty- five years, if I’d invented instead of organized its words, you could think I was taking a crack at writing the great jazz novel: experimental, sure; postmodern, maybe. It’s a book you can, if you like, hopscotch your way through, but read conventionally, from beginning to end, it is something of a metaepic. Instead of focusing on heroic deeds of iconic jazz artists—the amazing but true adventures of Pops, Duke, Bird, Mingus, and Miles—it tells stories behind those stories. Imagine a companion to The Odyssey that cobbled together fascinating, but less testosterone- fueled, behind- the- scenes anecdotes of jugglers, housewives, thieves, weavers, cooks, rope makers, stable boys, and blacksmiths: all told in their own words. You’d have, as is the case here, a weave of many voices: a rhapsody—songs strung together.

In this story of jazz albums, fifty- seven people talk about their work on more than two hundred records. With few exceptions, they spoke with me by telephone, but I’ve begun to hear their voices collectively as a surround- sound mix. Everyone I spoke with for these pages—except for an engineer (John Palladino) and a photographer (William Claxton)—has sat in the producer’s chair of a recording booth. For most of them, production was (or still is) their main gig. A few are known primarily as musicians, but they’ve produced records for themselves and in some cases for others. Their comments included here speak to issues of record production. And since I’ve used the word record, let me clarify its use in these pages. As a noun, records can refer to wax cylinders, 10- or 12- inch vinyl discs, multitrack tapes, cassettes, CDs, mp3 downloads, and any other medium used to mechanically or electronically encode sound. In other words, we’ll always have records—in some form or another.

This book focuses almost exclusively on American music, despite the global reach of jazz. It tells the seventy- five- year history of jazz record albums. That story has reached a point of resolution because the album format evolved. Don’t get me wrong. I am in no way restating the tired claim that jazz—the music—is dead. On that topic, I have no idea and little interest, but I notice that astonishing jazz albums—records—are still being issued, and they are selling. Rather, I’m saying the story of the jazz album has concluded. The album as a format—a way of organizing a . . .

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