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The Early Years - Louis Armstrong-PAJZ006

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The Early Years - Louis Armstrong-PAJZ006-CD
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King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band
Fletcher Henderson and His Orchestra
Clarence William's Blue Five
Eva Taylor
Bessie Smith
Louis Armstrong's Hot Five, Hot Seven, Savoy Ballroom Five, his Sebastian Cotton Club Orchestra, his Orchestra
(see below for further details)

Recorded 1923-40
Transfers, restoration and XR remastering by Andrew Rose, March 2008

(Duration 61'34")


An amazing new approach to acoustic and early electric recordings



Notes on this release


An XR remastering also available in Ambient Stereo
This XR-remastered recording is available in mono and Ambient Stereo. For more information on Ambient Stereo click here.

This collection represents the first outing of a new 'variant' of the XR remastering process, tailored particularly for acoustic 78rpm recordings but also very useful in restoring the earliest electric recordings. In this collection we present ten [*see note below]recordings from the pre-microphone era - recorded directly into a horn - and ten from the so-called 'electric' era of microphone recordings.

By using a specially adapted 'double pass' XR approach I've been able to get much closer to the cleaner finished sound I want using equalisation alone, before bringing in digital noise reduction, whilst simultaneously tackling the problems of horn resonances and very uneven tonal response. Where noise is a huge problem, as on acoustic recordings, this is a real step forward - it allows much better preservation of the musical signal and reduces the risk of producing audible digital noise artefacts in the finished recording.

Acoustic recording session
A classical acoustic recording session

What's been particularly fascinating about the Armstrong tracks is the realisation that, thanks to the sheer energy and harmonic richness of the brass instruments used, there's much, much more on some of these recordings than one might have expected to find. Normally we see acoustic recordings petering out somewhere between 3500 and 4500Hz, yet in occasional instances of particularly high notes I've detected harmonics right up to 19kHz.

The achievement of the new aspects of XR used for this restoration is to preserve these high harmonics much more effectively than before. Sadly they do generally only exist in the really high-energy instruments when they're playing loudly - we're not suddenly going to unearth CD quality from acoustic horn recordings - but the fact that they're not only possible but clearly audible does suggest that a lot of traditional equalisation of acoustic recordings may have been throwing valuable music content away.

*NB. We've listed four recordings by Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five as acoustic recordings in our CD booklet, though they fall into the period of time when the electrical recording process was being introduced by record companies during and after 1925. This assumption is based on tonal analysis of the recordings, which display the distinctive bass cut-off and the harmonic irregularities typical of horn recordings. The difference in this bass response can be heard most clearly between tracks 10 and 11 in the sound of the tuba, which suddenly has a depth and resonance not previously captured.

However, the treble response of tracks 8-10 is particularly surprising for an acoustic recording and, following restoration with the XR remastering process, the sound has an added clarity more usually associated with microphone recordings. Thus it is possible that these were poor electric recordings rather than good acoustics. Although 1925 is generally regarded as the start of the electric era, some recording companies continued with the old acoustic system into at least 1927, hence the slight uncertainty expressed here.

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