Producing 78-RPM Discs, 1936–1949
Production before the advent of magnetic tape—in the era of 78-RPM records—emphasized "pre-production." A&R men (short for "artists and repertoire") chose artists to record, and they paired songs from the publishing firms of Tin Pan Alley with artists. The A&R work of Milt Gabler (at Commodore and Decca Records) and John Hammond and George Avakian (at Columbia) is exemplary. Gabler organized a series of jam sessions, which he recorded. Avakian produced Chicago Jazz (1940), the first jazz "album" of original material. As part of their popular music divisions the major labels—Columbia, Decca, and RCA Victor—record and market jazz. A number of specialty labels emerge: Commodore, Prestige, Contemporary, Verve, Blue Note, Atlantic, Riverside, and Savoy. Though dependent on pressing plants owned by the majors, they reflect the production philosophies of the connoisseurs who founded and owned them.
Keywords: Jazz record production (early), A&R (artists and repertoire), Recording jazz musicians, History of jazz (swing to bebop), Creating sound recordings, Recording technologies (pre-tape), Inventing the record album, Interviews with producers, Oral histories
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