Guitars and Digital Only
It’s been a Guitar Fest here in NYC lately. I’ve seen Bill Frisell (always superb), Kenny Burrell (a very rare pleasure because he hates to fly) and Mike Marino (with new Blue Note pianist Aaron Parks). Tonight is a tribute to Fender's Jazzmaster guitar headlined by Nels Cline, J. Mascis, Thurston Moore and Tom Verlaine. Must be frets in the water or something.
Concord Records, the proud but often confused owners of the wondrous Fantasy Records catalog have made yet another really….um, interesting move by announcing they plan to release a number of new volumes in their ongoing Keepnews Collection in both CD and digital (download) form. Trouble is, three of these late Fifties/Early Sixties jazz reissues, not exactly records the kids are gonna buy, are being released in digital only format. In other words the only way to get them is to download them. Here are the titles:
CD and Digital:
THELONIOUS MONK: Thelonious Himself (1957)
BILL EVANS TRIO: Sunday at the Village Vanguard (1961)
ABBEY LINCOLN: That's Him! (1957)
WYNTON KELLY TRIO & SEXTET: Kelly Blue (1959)
MARK MURPHY: Rah (1961, 1962)
This is curious on a number of levels. The most obvious move, at least to my way of thinking, would have been to reissue all of them on CD and Vinyl. Jazz collectors never stopped buying vinyl, so why not put out a newly remastered LP version complete with new liner notes??? As anyone in music already knows, vinyl is experiencing a welcome comeback and these titles would seem like a natural. I’m sure there are economics that I have no idea about involved so this is more a wonderment that a criticism. Even putting the whole LP issue aside, putting them out digital only, no CDs, seems odd. But again there maybe forces at work here I am ignorant of and perhaps more kids are downloading than I think. Or jazz fans have all made the leap to the iPod world. My objection is thin, limited sound quality compounded by listening through computer speakers.