Michigan Jazz Record Collectors

A meeting place for jazz collectors, afficianados and appreciators
Founded 1982

Compact Discs

Here I go again on my pet peeve, the compact disc. Actually, I shouldn’t blame the disc it’s the manufacturers and producers. It’s bad enough that now, years after the production costs have come down to slightly more than those of an LP, we’re still being charged the premium price range of fifteen to sixteen dollars for most discs. Even the so-called budget discs are generally priced higher than their former LP equivalents. This, despite the fact that most of these, largely reissue lines, no longer have artist royalties, or, in some cases, even copyright costs to cover. The original recording costs were amortized decades ago.

The most annoying practice is using the pretext of respect for the original album content as an excuse for producing discs with less than forty minutes of music. True, some of them are offered at a lower price scale, but the equation seems to be 75 minutes of music is to fifteen dollars as 35 minutes is to eleven dollars or five minutes for a dollar equals three minutes and twelve seconds for a dollar. Sure, that’s fair.

Just an example – the Denon-Savoy disc of “Jazz for Play Girls” by Billy Ver Planck runs thirty-seven minutes and fifteen seconds, an exact transfer from the original LP, which evidently could hold no more. From that session and personnel, there are cuts of “Walkin” and “Jan-Cee Brown” which were farmed out to a set called “Jazz is Bustin’ out All Over” and, if I recall correctly, an alternate master of "Play Girl Stroll” on a Savoy two-pocket trombone set. Point being that if these titles had been reunited on one disc, we would have been closer to having the entire session and the disc would have been closer to sixty minutes than thirty and closer to the concept of completeness and a much more attractive purchase. Incidentally, this is true of many of the Denon/Savoy reissues. LPs that were assembled from leftovers should have been restructured into the original sessions. I’m sure the record executives will say they were forced to take the easy way out. I wish they had consulted me, I could have given them Kevorkian’s home number.

This does not infer that all companies are taking advantage of the bull CD market. Indeed, some are giving us remarkably good quantity and quality for our money and they are the ones deserving of our patronage, as for the others – walk on by.

Bob Cornfoot
April 1994