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)
Digital only:
ABBEY LINCOLN: That's Him! (1957)
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.

Susanna's picture

Agreed, vinyl would be lovely but as long as the downloads are lossless (ie uncompressed) and you listen to them through decent speakers they should lose none of the sound quality and maybe being a digital download would encourage kids who've never heard these amazing musicians to give it a go? You never know..

John in d.c.'s picture

I hope this is just a little trickle from the faucet, not the coming of a gusher because I have no interest in downloading music and if they want to lose this avid collector and music lover who PAYS to hear music live, on CD and vinyl, then they are welcome to ignore my formats.

Trey's picture

Record company execs are known more for their manicures and greed than their musical and marketing smarts! At least the ones I have known here in Nashville.Trey

jordan's picture

hm. maybe the kids over at Concord can't actually afford to press, package, pack-up and ship LPs and CDs. it's not like music is flying off the shelves these days (or any other consumer good for that matter).on the bright side, and as a vinyl lover and voracious buyer of music, i'd much prefer out of print music to be remastered and let out into the wilds digitally than have no access to it at all.not to mention... think of how eco-friendly it is!