Bumped to a daily post, extract from a recent addition on Mosaic to the Record Label Guide, but with more opinion – LJC
Mosaic Records was an important specialist jazz reissue venture set up by Michael Cuscuna and Charlie Lourie in 1983. Since 1984, Cuscuna has been a special consultant, producer, and reissue director of Blue Note Records, providing him with “trusted ” status access to the vaults and original master tapes. Starting out with Limited Edition vinyl box sets, Mosaic now releases only CD limited editions.
Limited Editions: when they are gone, they are gone.
“Mosaic does not own Pacific Jazz, Atlantic, Columbia, RCA, Blue Note, Verve or any other catalog product. With the exception of our Benedetti/Parker set, we lease all of our recordings from other record companies. The leases vary in detail, but in every case there’s a cap on either the number of units we are allowed to manufacture or the number of years we’re allowed to offer the set for sale. Therefore once the set has sold out, it will not be made available again”
Out-of-print limited edition vinyl box-sets are sought after, especially as their condition is often near-mint.
These are “audiophile quality” pressings on 110g near-silent vinyl and pretty high audio quality within the limitations of the original source. Some are remastered personally by Rudy Van Gelder.
What does the future of recorded music look like? One of these two men thinks they know.
Cuscuna today is the man who holds the keys to the Blue Note vaults, and who does not see any future potential in vinyl:
“Now, unfortunately, everything is available digitally, so I don’t know what the future of physical product is going to be with reissues. At this point, physical product is almost completely dead…”
or understand the relationship between vinyl and The Evil Silver Disk:
.”..the people who care most about those albums happen to be the same people who bought them back when they were on vinyl and then rebought those LPs on CD. Now people find themselves looking at newly upgraded CDs or SACDs…”
Apparently we are wasting our time with vinyl, it’s dead. Will someone please break the bad news to the hi fi industry.
Cuscuna is extremely knowledgeable on every aspect of Blue Note’s history. All respect due to him for his great contribution in unearthing unreleased material. However his take on the future is a depressing self-fulfilling prophecy: thinking inside the box…
…”I don’t know if we’re ever going to put out more CDs or if we’ll quietly put things up on iTunes and hope that people find it”
According to Cuscuna the future is apparently downloads. Seems it’s not just vinyl lovers; disciples of The Evil Silver Disk are in trouble too. Japan seems to be made more of the right stuff – Atelier Sawano say they “seeks to preserve the sanctity of the ‘music album’ as a physical object”. That’s the kind of attitude I like, not Cuscuna’s Blue Note undertaker. Sawano manufactured this daring collectors reissue last year, though apparently no longer selling on their site. Got to love that deep groove, it’s so cute.
I did buy a Sawano once, but unfortunately it wasn’t anything you would listen to a second time, very lack-lustre, but a pointer to other possible future directions if only someone can get the sound right. A while back I also acquired a 2x45rpm 180gm Analogue Productions so-called “audiophile” pressing. Also unfortunately, I eventually acquired the Blue Note original and the audiophile press doesn’t hold a candle to the real thing either.
A re-issue is a re-issue, not an “original” – it won’t satisfy collector’s lust for the original historical artefact, the first pressing. TokyoJazzCollector’s Mobley 1568 is not going to lose its value any time soon. However I am a very happy listening to original second pressings, even some early Liberty reissues and Division of United Artists that sound nearly as good. As the line on a T-shirt I once saw : “ I may not be gorgeous but at least I am available”
With all that modern technology, why does vinyl quality music production remain so elusive? We can we put a man on the moon; why we can’t we put an analogue studio tape recording on a vinyl disk?
(extract from LJC page on Mosaic here, including the list of over 200 out of print Limited Edition Mosaic Collections, many of which I didn’t know existed and some definitely now on my wants list)