A milestone in Jazz finally rescued from sonic oblivion!
Festival International de Jazz, Paris, May 1949
These live recordings, taken from French radio broadcasts, have always suffered from pretty dreadful sound quality. In their original Columbia issue the quality is akin to a particularly poor and crackly telephone line. As such, any remastering work presents huge challenges, and outcomes are limited by the frequency and dynamic ranges of the original AM broadcasts, as well as poor microphone placement and acoustics.
The listener to this remastered recording may feel that my priority was Miles Davis' trumpet. Well, yes and no. Of all the musicians here it is of course Miles who we wish to hear as clearly as possible. But we are fortunate that it is his soloing, and that of saxophonist James Moody, which was best picked up by the microphone, and which best cuts through the murk of the original recording. Dameron's piano is much further back, and whilst I've been able to round out the deep double bass notes, the drums remain thudding rather than bright.
Yet these are perhaps secondary concerns. With a recording such as this we want to hear the young Miles cutting loose and free, in front of an adoring audience and effectively leading his own small group for the first time - and just before he succumbed to a drug addiction that would keep him out of the public eye for several years.
So excuse a little hiss and occasional crackle, live with the fluttery sound on Embraceable You
(on which a lot of wayward pitch correction has been possible), and
listen at long last to this vital moment in modern jazz history, now
sounding hugely better than any other issue since those May nights in
1 Riff Tide (4:34)
2 Good Bait (5:48)
3 Don't Blame Me (4:20)
4 Lady Bird (5:01)
5 "Wah" "Hoo" (5:32)
6 Allen's Alley (4:27)
7 Embraceable You (4:03)
8 Ornithology (3:46)
9 All The Things You Are (4:18)
Broadcast Recordings from Salle Pleyel, Paris, May 1949 - Tracks 1-4: May 8th
Tracks 5-9: 9th, 12th, 14th, 15th May