[78-L] California Ramblers Edison mystery

Rodger Holtin rjh334578 at gmail.com.invalid
Tue Feb 16 21:47:32 PST 2016

And yet there are significant problems to every possible explanation we've
come up with.  Had Biograph had two takes available when they created that
LP the chances of the bad spots / good spots lining up just around the
clarinet seem kinda unlikely and we've acknowledged the records themselves
are pretty scarce so the chance of even having two takes available seems
slim, too - but possible. 

Didn't Edison keep track of which takes were issued?  Does any 78-L member
own another take of this thing?

Gotta wonder if this was even a written arrangement or a head job.  Even
solos they read might have some minor variations, even spots in the ensemble
will sometimes carry small differences.  Hard to find 'em here.  And to
suggest that Rollini reused the same solo on different takes just doesn't
quite ring true with what we otherwise think we know about him.  But it sure
seems as though he may have this time, anyway.

I have two theories and they have their problems as well.
My pet theory runs something like this:  Sweet Man was such a popular tune
with their audiences that they had played it every night and got into a
groove with it to the point that they had worked out their solos to the best
possible format and just didn't bother to change them anymore.  Even the two
clarinet solos are rhythmically similar.  Not sure even I would buy that
theory 100%, but we do know that sometimes a solo gets a life of its own
[Singin' the Blues, Dippermouth...], so it is possible.  To extend that to
include all the soloists on this record may be a stretch, admittedly.  And,
of course, if this was such a popular tune as that theory is dependent upon,
why is this their only recording of it?  Incidentally, Michael Brooks' liner
notes says it "drags a bit until Rollini comes roaring in."  I don't quite
buy that, either.  Rollini is often the star on any record he's on, but he's
in really good company here.  He's still the star, but these guys are
holding their own quite respectably, again making it even difficult to
comprehend their carbon copy solos across multiple takes.

So, we're left with a lot of questions involving things we thought we knew
about improvisational jazz and musicians of the Twenties, arranging for
dance bands, and yes, maybe even the technology of Edison recording - and
not much in the way of good answers, so here's my last theory:  Edison was
secretly recording in stereo and we have only heard the right channel until
this copy turned up with the left channel horn closer to the second
clarinetist.  PPPfffft.  

If somebody has time and wants to pitch this to one of the facebook groups,
have at it; somebody there may have just as good a theory as anything we
have come up with. Maybe others will find it as intriguing as we have.


For best results use Victor Needles

-----Original Message-----
From: 78-l-bounces at klickitat.78online.com
[mailto:78-l-bounces at klickitat.78online.com] On Behalf Of Tim Huskisson
Sent: Wednesday, February 17, 2016 6:13 AM
To: '78-L Mail List'
Subject: Re: [78-L] California Ramblers Edison mystery

Only the improvised solos will be different. For the most part, Rollini and
the other musicians are just reading their part. Those that could improvise
well (eg. Rollini) are more likely to play a completely different solo on a
different take. Other soloists may be playing a written solo.
Tim Huskisson

-----Original Message-----
From: 78-l-bounces at klickitat.78online.com
[mailto:78-l-bounces at klickitat.78online.com] On Behalf Of Rodger Holtin
Sent: 17 February 2016 05:09
To: '78-L Mail List'
Subject: [78-L] California Ramblers Edison mystery

All that chat about flanging a couple days ago reminded me of a story I've
been intending to share with the Board of Experts for a while.


I guess it was last spring when 78-Listmember Dave Blue Pages Diehl paid me
a visit here in West TN on his way to ARSC.  He pulled a box from the trunk
and said they were just some souvenirs of Arkansas.  Indeed.  One was a
Diamond Disc of Sweet Man by the Golden Gate Orchestra.  This has been a
favorite of ours since we heard Bill Givens play it on WHAM in Rochester, NY
on April 4, 1965.  We taped that and wore the tape out.  Fast forward to
1970 and it showed up on Biograph BLP-12020 as Miss Annabelle Lee - The
California Ramblers on Edison, Vol 1.  We put that on cassette and enjoyed
it in the walkman or the Buick until the cassettes croaked.  Fast forward to
2007 when I got my first computer that allowed me to burn my own CDs and
that track was among the first 100 CDs I burned.


We knew this record well - very well, and count it among the best of its age
by any band.  But when confronted with an original Edison, we did what we
would have done as teenagers - washed it and played it, regardless of the
fact we had it on CD.


Well..as it played, we noticed minor differences and chalked it up to EQ
settings, for it all sounded so "right" - the solos were all familiar, note
for note, lick for lick, the attacks the same - until we got to the clarinet
passage at the 2:30 mark and that sent us looking for the CD.  Marked
differences.  The old DD says it is take C, and the liner notes to Biograph
BLP-12020 says it, too is take C.  So we slapped 'em both into a digital
file to get a "stereo" version, the LP transfer in one channel and the old
DD in the other.  (It sounds a bit "flanged" and that's what prompted my
memory of this to pass on.)  


Easier said than done.  The LP version was brighter, played faster, and
consequently, shorter.  The assumption here is the LP transfer may have been
a tad fast, my original dub of the Lp to digital may have been too fast,
etc., before I got the nice turntable I have now.  So, anything's possible.
The DD transferred at a flat 78.26 and we used the software to perk it up
appropriately and that helped to even the score, but not completely.  Not
wishing to waste all night on this project, we got it pretty close by
dumping the first two minutes or so and centering it around the middle of
the clarinet passage, and there you can really hear the difference.  One
break is ascending notes, the other is descending.  No amount of EQ
difference is going to produce that.


Take a listen.  I've put the LP and DD files in Dropbox as mp3 files and our
crude composite of the final 1:20 or so is also there, marked "sample
2-edit."   Every other solo is exactly the same.


It amazed us that such a group as this would ever be able to play the same
arrangement note for note twice and make a near carbon-copy performance -
especially Adrian Rollini on bass sax.  He could be counted on for fresh
stuff on every take.  The DD has the complete title, the Lp is obviously a
rip from the CD and marked with "LP" as part of the file name.


Could the LP be mismarked as -C?  Could there be more than one -C?  The DD
wax is pretty clear.


Here's the link:





1-At first I thought the clarinet passage was a solo, but now I believe it's
two guys trading off, one takes 16 bars of the refrain as a subtone and then
trades 8s for the last half with a guy playing alto in a higher register.
My son the band director thinks they trade positions for the two takes!

2-Also noted that the LP liner notes said "Original sound qualities have
been retained and no artificial echoing or rechanneling has been
introduced."  But I think I hear a little echo here on the LP transfer, and
I had no way to add any.




For best results use Victor Needles


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