Wednesday, September 27, 2017

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How much does Amazon Digital Services care about the music it sells in CD-R form?

I just bought a CD-R copy of one of my favorite LPs, Earl Hines and Paul Gonsalves’s It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing! (Black Lion BL-306). What’s missing:

~ The LP’s original title. The CD is titled Paul Gonsalves Meets Earl Hines.

~ The details of the recording sessions: December 15, 1970, at National Studios; November 29, 1972, at Hank O’Neal Studio, New York City. Stanley Dance and Michael James, producers.

~ The names of the composers of the six tunes therein: “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)” (Duke Ellington-Irving Mills), “Over the Rainbow” (Harold Arlen-E.Y. Harburg), “What Am I Here For?” (Ellington), “Moten Swing” (Benny Moten), “Blue Sands” (Hines), “I Got It Bad (And That Ain’t Good)” (Ellington-Paul Francis Webster).

~ The names of the other musicians on hand: Al Hall, bass; Jo Jones, drums.

~ The wealth of detail in Alun Morgan’s liner notes. Morgan mentions, for instance, the sequence in which the five quartet performances were recorded. “Blue Sands,” a solo piano performance from almost two years later, was recorded on the same day as pieces on another Hines album.

Each of these omissions is unfortunate. I grant that reproducing liner notes may not be feasible for a CD-R, but the first four omissions are particularly glaring. The fourth is disgraceful: it’s impossible for me to imagine anyone with an interest in this recording who would not want to know the names of the bassist and drummer. Four musicians, and only two are named?

Most of the information missing from this CD-R is available, at least for now, at a website devoted to Paul Gonsalves. And I have it all on the back cover of my LP. But there is no good reason for this information not to be included with the recording. The transformation of music into files ought not to mean the erasure of that music’s history.

See also Donald Norman’s observation: “What a technology makes easy to do will get done; what it hides, or makes difficult, may very well not get done.”

[The post title reduces the names of Earl Hines and Paul Gonsalves to  a l          l Gon    e.]

comments: 3

Chris said...

I'm confused about what Amazon Digital Services is. Do they custom-print CDs of digital files from the archives?

Michael Leddy said...

Yes, it’s like print-on-demand for books. They also have the music for sale as MP3s.

Slywy said...

We live in a time where context isn't considered important, no matter how important it is.