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Landmark recordings in what is probably their best incarnation yet
on May 13, 2016
I won't write a tune-by-tune review of these works, because by the time you get to this set you probably already know what you're getting, and if you are unfamiliar with the Hot Fives and Sevens, well, there's Ken Burns or Youtube. But what about the remasterings? These were among the earliest of jazz recordings, a few of them before electric recording was invented. They--especially those early acoustic ones--weren't captured with the greatest fidelity, and have been worn out over the years on top of that. Some labels have compensated by boosting some frequencies, at the expense of others. For example, they're largely bass-deficient, but just pumping up the bass won't make them sound better. They just become boomy and hollow. What makes these transfers work so well is that they are very natural and even--no artificial emphasizing of any sonic zone--and this is the quickest way to make your ear forget the sonic limitations and hear the music naturally. (Music & Arts' release of Cortot's Chopin Ballades and Preludes, http://www.amazon.com/Cortot-Chopin-Legendary-1925-1929-Recordings/dp/B000001OGS/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1463164986&sr=1-1&keywords=cortot+chopin+music+and+arts, is an excellent example on the classical side.) So this is the set to own if you want to hear all the Hot Fives and Sevens, likely in as good sound quality as you're ever likely to hear them until someone invents a time machine and we can travel back to the actual record dates. The notes are extensive and interesting, too. Four CDs in "standard" plastic cases housed in one slipcase or "cardboard sleeve." I'd have preferred a thin box with the CDs in paper envelopes to save space, but that's my only complaint.