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Capitol Small Group Transcriptions

Posted by Arnie 
Capitol Small Group Transcriptions
December 12, 2002 04:19AM
Are the songs on the Capitol Small Group Transcriptions CDs the same as the Complete Capitol Transcriptions with June Christy?
Re: Capitol Small Group Transcriptions
December 12, 2002 04:56AM
Hi Arnie, I have never been on this board before, and I came in to ask about this very subject. Funny that yours was the first post I saw. Anyway, I have been researching this, as I saw last night on footlight.com that the three cd set you speak of is on sale for about $22! As far as I can tell it is the same material, but I'm not sure if it has every last song. I bought the June Christy version of this from Jazz Factory, which is a single disc and sounds fantastic, but it has just a couple less songs than the Peggy/June 5-disc set.

I can't really afford the 5 disc set, so I may jump on this $22 deal, especially in light of the good sound quality on the June Christy disc (it's an awsome disc). If I had the dough I'd just get the five disc set, especially since Will Friedwald, author of Jazz Singing (which praises Peggy a lot) wrote the notes, and it sounds like a truly high-quality item in all respects.

If I do a song-by-song comparison of the Peggy discs I will post the results. Happy hunting.
Re: Capitol Small Group Transcriptions
December 12, 2002 05:45AM
I believe that the 3 disc set is drawn from the same material as the five disc set (3 1/2 of which deal with Peggy). I've counted 61 songs on the 3 disc, Jazz Factory set and 72 songs (featuring Peggy) on the Mosaic set w/ June. So, the Jazz Factory disc has 11 less tunes, though I don't know which. I'm going ahead and getting it anyway...61 songs is better than none. Good luck.
Re: Capitol Small Group Transcriptions
December 12, 2002 05:45PM
Thanks for the info! I think I'll get the 3 disc. Much cheaper. Plus I'm not that "into" June. smiling smiley
Re: Capitol Small Group Transcriptions
December 14, 2002 02:23AM
I have ordered this set and I anxiously await its arrival.

By the way, I hope I was clear that the eleven songs missing from the Jazz Factory 3-disc set are ALL Peggy Lee songs. I counted the June Christy tracks seperately.

Also, June Christy is great! I can see a lot of Peggy fans really enjoying her...not to mention Lee Wiley. So much great music and so little time...
Re: Capitol Small Group Transcriptions
December 21, 2002 12:30AM
Hi guys,

Please don't get mad at me for saying this, but it would be best that if you buy that 3-CD item, you keep it to yourselves. I myself am not exacty rich, and I too prefer to buy CDs used or very cheap whenever I can, so I understand perfectly well. And, if I couldn't afford the box, as is Haley's case, rest assure that I too would buy the cheap set. But I would keep it to myself, because I happen to know something that Harley and Arnie might not. You are giving business to the most outrageous bootlegger currently in business, and in the process you are inadvertently doing a disservice to our general cause of having more of Peggy's recordings released.

Let me explain. The recordings that we are talking about were originally made for radio in the late 1940s, and were never released commercially. In other words, they never came to record stores; they were instead special discs sent to radio stations. After some rotation at selected radio stations, they were never heard of again. Hence, having these recordings commercially released today is a big achievement. I believe that we owe their release to jazz critic Will Friedwald, who kept insisting that they needed to be issued. Finally, he convinced Mosaic Records, which proceeded to spend money & resources in locating, processing, and remastering these discs. Upon its release, it became the jazz label's first vocal set ever -- not to say anything of their first release dedicated to female singers.

Mosaic Records has close ties with the EMI label and its branches (Blue Note, Capitol...). Sales of this Mosaic set will contribute to Capitol's ongoing decisions as to whether to release more Peggy material.

Now, how does Jazz Factory, um, factors into this? Well, this label, with offices in Spain, simply took the recordings in the Mosaic box, and released them. Just like that. Without permission and without any payment. Not that they need to do either -- European laws allow for the free use in some countries of recordings that are over half a century old.

I could tolerate their behavior if they had waited until after Mosaic's sets had gone out of print. But no -- they released their version just a few months after Mosaic -- thereby cutting into Mosaic's sales, and into the set's potential to impress Capitol/ EMI.

As for the few Peggy songs that are not in the Mosaic set but are on the bootlegger: these are the songs that Mosaic marked as "previously unreleased" (meaning that, though they were sent to radio stations back in the '40s, they were never actually played over the radio. This is a smart decision from the bootlegger: if ever in trouble, they can argue that they actually got the songs from old tapes that some radio listener made -- or something like that.

All that said, the label has also given us (fans of vocals) in good sound some great stuff that the major labels are not releasing, and have not care to release. But what they are doing to labels such as Mosaic is reprehensible.

Harley, I too love Lee Wiley, and enjoy June Christy. :-)
Dear Ivan,

Thank you for your explanation of bootlegging. It is such a difficult issue to deal with, and it does make it harder for the "real" thing to come out. The fact that the composers and singers don't get paid from a bootleg issue is also a big problem. As much as we might like to think that art can be for art's sake, as my mom and dad wrote, "WHO'S GONNA PAY THE CHECK?"

My family is trying to keep the quality as high as possible and see that as much of mama's work comes out in the long run.

As always, thanks for your support!

Good stuff Ivan!

Thanks for the head-up on Jazz Factory - I was leaning towards the Mosaic set anyhow cos I love June Christy. Please establish a list of known labels who bootleg Peggy Lee if you think it won't serve as advertisement for them. Marginal almost caught me...

This is an issue, and Nicki's 100% correct: while bootlegs (and now Euro public domain stuff) proliferate, there can be little incentive for Peggy Lee's legit labels to release the things we need to hear if their marketing deparments aren't seeing the figures they need to see.
[Although Peggy isn't mentioned by name, the following article sheds some light on the complex issues discussed above. It also includes a few quotes from Michael Cuscuna of Mosaic/Blue Note, the producer of the marvelous Peggy Lee-June Christy boxed set on Mosaic as well as the Capitol Jazz reissues of "Beauty and the Beat," "Mink Jazz," "Sugar 'N' Spice," and "Blues Cross-Country," all of which wisely included relevant bonus tracks -- DT]

Companies in U.S. Sing Blues as Europe Reprises 50's Hits

by Anthony Tommasini
New York Times, January 3, 2003

European copyright protection is expiring on a collector's trove of 1950's jazz, opera and early rock 'n' roll albums, forcing major American record companies to consider deals with bootleg labels and demand new customs barriers.

Already reeling from a stagnant economy and the illegal but widespread downloading of copyrighted music from the Internet, the recording companies will now face a perfectly legal influx of European recordings of popular works.

Copyright protection lasts only 50 years in European Union countries, compared with 95 years in the United States, even if the recordings were originally made and released in America. So recordings made in the early- to mid-1950's -- by figures like Maria Callas, Elvis Presley and Ella Fitzgerald -- are entering the public domain in Europe, opening the way for any European recording company to release albums that had been owned exclusively by particular labels.

Although the distribution of such albums would be limited to Europe in theory, record-store chains and specialty outlets in the United States routinely stock foreign imports.

Expiring copyrights could mean much cheaper recordings for music lovers, but they do not bode well for major record companies. (These copyrights apply to only the recordings, not the music recorded.) The expected crush of material entering the public domain has already sent one giant company, EMI Classics, into a shotgun marriage with a renegade label that it had long tried to shut down to protect its lucrative Callas discography. The influx also has the American record industry talking about erecting a customs barrier.

"The import of those products would be an act of piracy," said Neil Turkewitz, the executive vice president international of the Recording Industry Association of America, which has strongly advocated for copyright protections. "The industry is regretful that these absolutely piratical products are being released."

The industry association is trying to persuade European Union countries to extend copyright terms. Meanwhile, Mr. Turkewitz said, "we will try to get these products blocked," arguing that customs agents "have the authority to seize these European recordings even in the absence of an injunction brought by the copyright owners."

Expiring copyrights have already led to voluminous European reissues of such historically important artists as the violinist Jascha Heifetz and the jazz cornetist Bix Beiderbecke. But the recordings of the 50's are viewed as being of another order.

That was the era when recording techniques took a quantum leap and when the long-playing record came into its own and was embraced by the public. Even monaural records from the period, before stereophonic sound, are prized today by classical and jazz audiophiles. Artistically, the decade coincided with the golden years of opera legends like Renata Tebaldi; the birth of rock heralded by recordings of Little Richard, Chuck Berry and Presley; and enormous outbursts of creativity from seminal jazz figures like Thelonious Monk and Miles Davis. "That decade of recording transformed music and how the public consumes music," Mr. Turkewitz said.

That was also the great decade of Callas, who was under exclusive contract to EMI. The looming expiration of copyright on EMI's extensive Callas selections compelled that London-based company to form an alliance with a former enemy.

EMI Classics (formerly Angel Records) has been the official keeper of the Callas discography since 1953, when Callas, the Greek soprano, was 29 and made her first recordings for the company. Over the years, EMI has contended with independent labels that released unauthorized Callas recordings, mostly taken from pirated live performances. In the late 1990's, the bane of EMI's existence was a Milan-based independent called Diva, the largest producer of the unofficial recordings. (A lawyer for Diva, Kriton Metaxopoulos, said that Diva never released Callas recordings without the approval of her heirs.)

But last year, with the support of the Callas estate in Athens, EMI made a deal with Diva, which two years ago reconstituted itself as Marcal Records (for Maria Callas) and moved its offices to the Virgin Islands for tax purposes. In November EMI released a new batch of Callas recordings, including four complete live operas and five CD's of live concerts and rehearsals. The source for these was Marcal.

The strategy would seem to be, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Richard Lyttelton, president of classics and jazz for EMI Recorded Music, concedes as much.

"For many years EMI was in opposition to Diva," Mr. Lyttelton said in a recent interview from London. "But there has been an irresistible pull for us to work together." With this deal, as Mr. Lyttelton explained, EMI "wanted to try to legitimize the market" for these live Callas recordings "rather than try to suppress it."

The company hopes that its unconventional deal with Diva may prove to be an indirect way to maintain dominance in the Callas market, which has been crucial to EMI's artistic legacy and its bottom line. Callas recordings, most of them made between 1953 and 1960, account for about 5 percent of sales for EMI's classical division in a typical year, more than for any artist on that division's current roster, said Mark Forlow, vice president of EMI Classics. "It's amazing," Mr. Forlow said. "Those records just keep selling."

In 1997, to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Callas's death at 53, EMI issued the first of three installments of its complete Callas Collection, which included 59 releases, including 31 complete operas, all impressively remastered, intelligently packaged and rich with program notes.

With its new releases, EMI has issued live Callas performances that it was trying to suppress not so long ago, banking that its quality presentation will draw Callas fans and keep them away from cheaper choices. As a further inducement, the new EMI releases are being sold at mid-price.

This strategy has been tried for years by specialty labels like Mosaic Records, a reissue company that releases critically praised boxed sets of classic jazz recordings. Mosaic recently released a seven-CD set of recordings by Beiderbecke, who died in 1931. But cheap competition from European labels has hurt the profitability of such projects, said Michael Cuscuna, Mosaic's president.

"With the Beiderbecke set, we went to the original metal discs and did the best possible sound transfers," he said. "But a handful of European companies have put out this stuff just dumped off the original 78's. That the recording exists in such an inferior state hurts the music." Mr. Cuscuna said that some European labels simply wait for a reissue to come out in the United States, then copy it and appropriate the photographs. "Yet, consumers still go for the cheaper product," he said. "It's discouraging. We've got to get the major labels to take a stand."

Consumer advocates and champions of access to creative products see many copyright protections as too lengthy, unfair to the public and ultimately stifling to creativity. "When works enter the public domain, the consequence is extraordinary variety and lower costs," said Lawrence Lessig, a professor at Stanford Law School. Professor Lessig appeared before the United States Supreme Court to challenge a 1998 law that extended copyright protection by 20 years, and a decision could come from the court as early as this month.

The Callas recordings, for example, "will be taken and put into a million different content spheres," he said. "They will be encouraged and sold in ways not done now."

This is all the more true because of the Internet, Professor Lessig added. Once copyrighted works enter the public domain, he said, "a wide range of copies -- high quality and low -- will quickly be available, always and for free." Unlike many record companies, he considers this beneficial. "People ask, `How could you ever compete with free?'" he said. "Think Perrier or Poland Spring."

According to Mr. Turkewitz, it is illegal under American copyright law to download material protected in the United States regardless of the legal status of that material in another country. Still, the computer file-sharing programs that are cropping up everywhere make this law difficult to enforce.

Defenders of extended copyright terms, like Mr. Turkewitz, argue that, if anything, American laws are still too lax and that the European laws are woefully inadequate.

"The public sees icons like Mickey Mouse and thinks that the companies must by now have made their money," he said. But, he added, 9 out of 10 sound recordings lose money. "Very few materials wind up generating the revenues that sustain an entire system," he said. "The amount of money put back into production by the record companies is enormous. It's extremely risk-intensive."

One example of what EMI faces by the end of this year is that any European label will be able to release a staple of the company's catalog: the incomparable 1953 Callas recording of Puccini's "Tosca" with Giuseppe di Stefano as Cavaradossi and Tito Gobbi as Scarpia, both at their peaks, with the Italian maestro Victor de Sabata conducting.

Callas fans, no doubt, will heatedly debate the artistic merits and the sound restoration on the four new releases of live performances from La Scala on EMI, the most familiar being a 1955 performance of Bellini's "Sonnambula," with Callas in top form and Leonard Bernstein, then 36, conducting. This recording, available over the years on various independent labels, has long been an underground hit.

The stakes for EMI are considerable.

"Some in the company say we should be throwing roses on the Aegean Sea every year," Mr. Forlow said. "Callas keeps the lights on here."
Hi Ivan,

Thanks for your view on this collection. I would like this and feel I should support Will Friedwald's efforts and also your comments.

I have found it difficult to locate the 5-disc set but have now achieved this.

Over in England, generally, our CDs (at least at store level) are more expensive than in the USA. This set is available at ?50 (US$ 80) and the 3-disc Jazz Factory set at ?25 (US$ 40). Being good at sums, this is twice the price but the first is ?10 per disc and the Jazz Factory is ?8 + per disc.

So not so bad, if not a bargain for an extra 11 Peggy songs - don't you think? (PLUS of course all the June Christy songs).

No-one has commented on the 5-disc cost in the USA. Is $80 about the same for you guys?

I'd be grateful for a comment. Best wishes.

Bob Wallace.
January 07, 2003 05:00AM
Hello Bob,

I didn't know that you were in England -- somehow your name made me think "US of A!"

The price of the Mosaic box is $80 in the United States, too. Aside from the missing songs, there are various features that you will find in the Mosaic release only --not in the bootleg release. Let's see.... The CDs come in a 12" by 12" box, and with a 16-page booklet. The booklet contains very long essays by Friedwald, in which he discusses Peggy's and June's transcriptions in detail. The booklet also includes a 2-page explanation of the concept "transcription," a one-paragraph comment from Peggy herself (about these transcriptions, and made on the occasion of their release), and about 10 b&w photos -- some of them 12" by 6", and many of them not found elsewhere.

There is of course very detailed discographical information in the Mosaic box -- and it has been used by the bootleg label.

Did you check Mosaic's website, Bob? It's at www.mosaicrecords.com

As I previously mentioned, these Peggy and June transcriptions were the jazz label's first female vocal release. After this one, they did the complete Mildred Bailey on Columbia Records, the complete Anita O'Day on Verve, and, most recently, the complete Sarah Vaughan on Roulette.

The bootleg label in question seems to have appropriated Mosaic's Peggy, June, and Mildred tracks, but cannot use the Anita and Sarah material, because it is not 50 years old yet.
Re: Mosaic
January 07, 2003 02:56PM
Dear Ivan,

Thank you very much indeed for the information. As usual you have given an answer way and above that which I was expecting.

I did not know Mosaic's website but have now visited and found some excellent pages regarding this production.

All I have to do now is wait for the postman, although it is indicated I may have to wait 4 weeks. Thank you, again.

Bob Wallace.
This is not intended as a negative posting but rather an observation! I have heard nothing but praise about Mosaic but the one thing that really puts me off is the fact that despite the extensive liner notes, etc, etc, they do not print the artwork of the original album covers. In the case of the Peggy boxset this is immaterial because we're not talking about albums. However, with Anita O'Day and Sarah Vaughan, etc, I think it's a massive loss not to have the artwork (especially as these sets are aimed at collectors!).....Paulb.
Re: Capitol Small Group Transcriptions
January 19, 2021 05:14PM
Having found a used copy of the 3-CD set, does anyone know if it came with a booklet? The one I have only has the 3 discs and info on the back insert.
Re: Capitol Small Group Transcriptions
January 20, 2021 02:37PM
The 3-CD Mosaic set came with a 16-page booklet including an appreciation and critique by Will Friedwald and session details.
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