Amoeblog

What We're Doing With What They've Done: Amoeba's "Vinyl Vaults"

Posted by Rick Frystak, April 28, 2013 07:15pm | Post a Comment

If you don't already know, we here at Amoeba are very much underway with our monumental archiving project for our website Amoeba.com, simply called the "Vinyl Vaults". It's a really spectacular beginning to what is and will be a huge undertaking in offering to the public digital transfers of the most remarkable older, oblique and hard to find works of creative peoples around the globe throughout the history of recording. I myself, am curating a large part of this, and have been very excitedly pulling out many, many unique pieces of vinyl out of the used LP buys that we take in at Amoeba's buying counters, and sending them into the ether (ie,our great team) to be archived and considered for sale on Amoeba.com. Our sound team takes these copies of the LPs, 7" singles and 78 rpm discs and digitizes them via ProTools, into 24-bit files, and then make mp3, mp4 and 16 bit .wav files (CD quality) from the 24-bit master and split up the sides into tracks for folks to download. We sometimes offer of the highest resolution 24-bit file as well for a certain title. And in many cases the original LP or 78 or 45 we used to digitize the sides is available right there next to the download. 


How do I decide what we save to digitize and offer to the public as I go through all these LPs? The records almost speak to me as I sift over the aquisitions we've purchased in the collections we buy. If I don't  know the record, I'll see the look of the cover, the paper texture, and the era of manufacture as the first things revealed. Even the weight and smell of the "thing". Exotic LPs have a feel to them, a way they communicate to the holder that they are something interesting, distinctly special, and a thing to be investigated further. If you've held a phonograph record in your hands  you know what I mean. Often the packaging will tell me what's inside, but how many records say "vocals" or "guitar" or "piano", and yet how different can all these records be? The actual sound on the disc is an exciting mystery of immense promise before I hear it. So then, to play a little bit, I "needle-drop" (sample bits of) so many records in a day. And it just so happens that Amoeba offers 1 1/2 minutes of free sample listening for all the records' songs, so this is comparable to how I listen to potential pieces for the Vaults. Once chosen, a disc will undergo a discerning ear's analysis and judgement for condition, and a little research to see if folks already know about this record. Ultimately, the bliss of finding a transcendent musical performance by a deceased or obscure artist or on a long-defunct label is intoxicating. And to think that others can later enjoy these provocative sounds via the "Vinyl Vaults"  is exhilarating.

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New York State of Mind Amoeblog #19: Photo Episode

Posted by Billyjam, January 30, 2013 11:26am | Post a Comment

For this special edition of the New York State of Mind Amoeblog, I'm posting a series of pictures (mostly taken in recent weeks around Manhattan as well as a couple of other spots not far from Manhattan) that tell a story of what New York City has to offer. If you move your cursor over the photos most of them have some accompanying text that will identify their location or offer other related information.
 








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Take Five To Salute Dave Brubeck

Posted by Billyjam, December 6, 2012 08:38am | Post a Comment
          
Dave Brubeck Quartet "Take Five"

Jazz icon Dave Brubeck, who died yesterday (Dec 5th) in Norwalk, Conn of heart failure, just one day shy of his 92nd birthday, may well always be most remembered for his huge crossover hit of his long-time musical partner, alto saxophonist  Paul Desmond's composition "Take Five" that he and his quartet recorded for the groundbreaking 1959 album Time Out.  But the Bay Area born jazz pianist/composer's legacy goes far deeper than that one incredibly popular song from an equally popular album Time Out, which also featured "Blue Rondo a la Turk" - another song that would go on to become a jazz standard, was the first jazz album ever to sell a million copies. Time Out was just one release in an incredibly prolific and rich recording career by the artist who recorded over 50 albums (many more when you include all the compilations and collections such as Dave Brubeck: Twenty Classic Albums that was coincidentally released on Tuesday this week by Real Gone/Primetech). Check the JazzDisco.Org site for a complete listing of Brubeck's long discography and check the Amoeba online store for what is currently available from Brubeck's back catalog: about three dozen Brubeck releases in total, found under the three categories: Dave Brubeck solo Dave Brubeck Quartet, and Dave Brubeck Octet. Above and below are a few videos capturing some great moments in the artist's long illustrious career including that song that he will be most remembered for. Rest in peace Dave Brubeck.

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Rest In Peace Austin Peralta

Posted by Billyjam, November 30, 2012 10:10am | Post a Comment

As with everyone whose lives have been touched by Austin Peralta - the gifted young LA jazz pianist / composer whose sudden death last week shocked everyone who knew him - we here at Amoeba Music are similarly saddened greatly by this tragic news of the loss of our good friend who played at the Hollywood Amoeba just a few short months ago.

Austin is gone way too soon. But despite his young age, the talented artist had accomplished an incredible amount in his all too short time on this earth. He was only 15 years of age when he recorded and released his debut album of mostly jazz standards Maiden Voyage (on Sony/Japan) with respected jazz sidemen Billy Kilson (drums) and Ron Carter (bass). Then at age 16 the young jazz artist recorded another acclaimed album, Mantra for Sony/Japan, with respected seasoned jazz musicians Steve Nelson (vibraphone) and Buster Williams (bass).

Peralta, the son of skateboarder and film director Stacy Peralta, proved to be a tireless performer (check out this link to hundreds of YouTube clips) and recording artist. Two years ago he recorded his most attention getting album (Stateside) Endless Planets which was released by Flying Lotus' Brainfeeder Records imprint back in March of 2011. Six months ago Ireland's All City Records released his Views of Saturn Vol. 2 - a shared vinyl-only 12" release with the late great Sun Ra who inspired the record. It was four months ago when Austin stopped by Amoeba Hollywood to perform as part of our Brainfeeder series  (picture above was taken at that Amoeba in-store in July). A week ago on November 22nd just four weeks after his 22nd birthday Peralta died - the result of as yet unknown causes. At this sad time our thoughts here at Amoeba are with his family, friends, and fans. Rest in peace Austin Peralta.


The Big Bang Theory of Jazz - Louis Armstrong Arrives

Posted by Sherwin Dunner, November 26, 2012 05:15pm | Post a Comment

Louis ArmstrongIn what might be dubbed the Big Bang Theory of Jazz, the world began in April 1923 when King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band with Louis Armstrong in tow stepped into the Gennett Recording studio and cut nine sides. The Oliver band had been knocking 'em dead for several months in nearby Chicago at the cavernous South Side dance hall Lincoln Gardens, and these recordings would become the gold standard for early New Orleans jazz. Even more significant for the future of jazz, although Louis would play his first recorded solos on these sessions, he would soon outgrow the limited space for him in such ensembles of collective improvisation. He just wanted to cut loose and blow, and as people heard him and his fame grew, he would evolve into the first star of jazz and almost single-handedly transform jazz from a dance music to that of improvising solo performance.

You can witness what Louis had become by 1933 in the first Louis on film – that year he was captured in a live performance on a Copenhagen concert stage – no Hollywood gimmicks or studio post-dubbing of music. And you can explore that transformation in Amoeba's new Vinyl Vault.  In honor of, and as tribute to Louis, we have added digital files of virtually all of Louis' early records from 1923 to 1928, remastered directly from the cleanest original 78s available. So have fun exploring the Louis Armstrong archive in Amoeba's Vinyl Vault.
 

King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band (April 1923 to December 1923)

King OliverWhen I first started collecting 78s, I avoided early “pre-electric” discs because the sound was a bit distant and thin compared to the electric process, which was still a few years off in the future, and I passed up many of these 1923 King Oliver Gennetts. Now I look back on my screwed up priorities and feel it was akin to throwing away a hundred dollar bill because it was too wrinkled. Musically, if not sonically, these early King Oliver Gennetts still hold up as some of the most exuberant discs ever recorded. Every player attacked the thread of melody at once, each adding fuel to the fire without getting in each other's way – never mind that you're not a jazz fan, and don't confuse these recordings with later derivative white revival “dixieland” (or “dorksieland” as some of my friends call it).  Early jazz was first and foremost dance music, the rock 'n' roll of its day, and New Orleans style was loud, brash, rock solid dance music, activating hormones and posing the same kind of threat to middle America that rock 'n' roll would in the 1950s. Check out this1925 headline from a Cincinnati newspaper zeroing in on the insidious influence of jazz.

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