Before diving into Mosaic-land, I'd like to call your attention to an extremely in-depth profile of myself that was put together by the great Mick Carlon for the Jazz Times website and published yesterday. It's called, Ricky Riccardi: Dedicated Disciple of Pops, and as Louis would have said, I kind of like this one myself. It covers pretty much every facet of my life from my upbringing in NJ, my days spent painting houses and writing blogs and how everything finally came together to allow me to live this all-Pops-all-the-time life. Only Mick could have done it so thank you, Mick, thank you Jazz Times, thank you longtime readers (and new ones) and thank you, Pops. (And if you haven't checked out Mick's young adult book about Pops, Travels with Louis, do check it out!)
With that personal plug out the of the way, a simple question: did everybody get it? Well, well, didja!? Last week, I wrote about awaiting the official e-mail announcement from Mosaic Records and sure enough, it came through this morning! The pre-order link has been up for a week, but now that Mosaic has e-mailed their followers, the floodgates should open; in fact, I noticed the SoundCloud clicks on the sample tracks on the set's sit really jumped, with top link "Royal Garden Blues," jumping from the low 200's yesterday to 350 as of this writing. Let the buzz build, my friends.
If you don't get Mosaic's e-mail updates or follow their essential Daily Gazette, you're missing some great stuff. I was happy to see that along with their announcement, they included one of my ridiculous rambles about some of the pitfalls we narrowly avoided while putting the set together. I realized I've written a LOT about this set since we announced it on April 30, 2013. I don't think I set out to chronicle the process in such excruciating detail, but I've gotten some nice feedback about it, especially on the Organissimo jazz forums where more than one person has said they've bought Mosaics for years and never really thought about what it takes to put one of these things together.
So if anyone wants to relive it, here's the links for everything I've written here on the blog about the Mosaic box. Consider it something to pass the time as we wait these final weeks for the set to actually arrive. At that point, I'll shut up (though if you do get the set, you'll have to wade through my 27,000 word liner notes!).
After the April 30 announcement, it took until May 29 before I dove into it on the blog, giving details not only of the contents but also of my personal history in spending years to convince Mosaic to do such a set:
New Mosaic Records Louis Armstrong Boxed Set Coming Soon - May 29, 2013
Then it was quiet for a while as Mosaic had to take care of its Ella Fitzgerald-Chick Webb set. Once that was behind them, we dug in in October with the first of many visits to Andreas Meyer's studio in Astoria to begin the transferring process. This is when things started getting very interesting. Here's the first update:
Armstrong Odds and Ends: Mosaic Update - November 17, 2013
(Pssst - if you read that to the end, the whole "professor" thing bombed as the proposed Armstrong class didn't have enough students enrolled. No worries, I don't know how I would have squeezed it in!)
Heading into 2014, we were still in Andreas's studio, where I now started taking more photos and short videos of the process, as featured in this entry:
Record Making...With Mosaic Records! - January 17, 2014
On March 15, George Avakian turned 95. This entry included video of me and David Ostwald interviewing George during the Satchmo Summerfest in New Orleans last August. We played George samples of material that's going to be on the Mosaic set; watching George's emotional reaction to hearing himself interview Louis in 1956 is something I will never forget.
Happy 95th Birthday to George Avakian! - March 15, 2014
My March 28 entry included another re-telling of the Newport 1956 story as related on the Mosaic Gazette this morning:
Here and Now (And Looking Ahead to the Mosaic Set) - March 28, 2014
And to bring things up to date, the reveal of the cover of the set:
Mosaic Update: We Have a Pre-Order Date....and a Cover! - April 25, 2014
And finally, last week's update on how many people have been telling me they've already pre-ordered the set!
Mosaic Pre-Order Madness - May 2, 2014
As a treat for anyone who waded through all of this, Organissimo user TedR noted that the account of the Newport 1956 mess was written BEFORE Andreas used his expertise to splice the vocals from the Voice of America tapes into the Columbia balance, where Louis is way off-mike. Ted wanted to know if we were pleased with Andreas's results and the answers are yes, yes and positively yes. As already mentioned, the VOA tapes have some distortion, especially when the horns play; you can hear it slightly during the vocals, but I don't think anyone's going to ask for their money back....especially when compared to how it sounded on Columbia's original reels. So I just cooked up this little 67-second edit: first, you'll hear about 30 seconds of the Columbia reel, from the end of the opening ensemble to the first eight bars of Louis's vocal. You'll hear Louis sounded like he's singing from inside his dressing room. Then after a fade, you'll hear it as it's going to sound on the Mosaic set, with the barely perceptible splice from the Columbia tape to the VOA tape just before the vocal:
So what do you think? I think Andreas nailed it. And without the dedication of guys like Andreas and Scott, this set would never be released in ANY capacity. But here we are, just a few weeks away from getting it complete and in the best possible quality imaginable. I can hardly wait.