Friday, May 30, 2014

The Mosaic Has Landed

On June 23, 2006, I took a few minutes to write an e-mail to Mosaic Records, pitching them a crazy idea I had to do what I estimated as an 8-10 disc boxed set of live recordings Louis Armstrong recorded for George Avakian at Columbia throughout the 1950s. Scott Wenzel wrote back and said he'd look into it.

On May 27, 2014, a 9-CD Mosaic Records boxed set arrived at my front door: Columbia and RCA Victor Live Recordings of Louis Armstrong and the All Stars. Co-produced by Scott Wenzel and Ricky Riccardi. Liner notes by yours truly.
Ta da! Seconds after opening it.
It's been nearly eight years since I first had the idea and anyone who has followed this blog for the past year knows that it's been full of all sorts of craziness. But now it's over. The set is here, it is real and if I say so myself, it is fantastic.

This is slightly old news if you follow me on Facebook as I've pretty much devoted every post this week to basking in the glow of this set. It's been absolutely beautiful hearing from Armstrong fans from all over the world who are just as excited by it, telling me when they're getting shipping notices and when their credit cards have been charged! Right now, I feel like I'm one of only a handful of people to have experienced this set (almost literally a handful; my set number is 8 out of 5,000!). I'm really excited for that number to grow in the coming weeks and years. Please, please, please let me know what you think of the set. Leave a comment, find me on Facebook, shoot me an e-mail, I'd love to hear from you.

I've already heard from one person who has enjoyed the set....a person with a huge audience, to boot! Imagine my surprise when I'm getting ready to go to sleep on Memorial Day (still without a set) and I get a Google alert with a link to a rave review in the Wall Street Journal by Tom Nolan! I'm still in shock but completely thrilled by Mr. Nolan's comments. He really got the point of this set and I'm hoping others do, too.

And though it's lovely that people keep congratulating me, please, please, please also give thanks to my co-producer, Scott Wenzel, and our engineer, Andreas Meyer. I just had the idea and wrote a lot of long e-mails, playing detective and trying to avoid catastrophes. Scott brought the usual class and thoroughness that we've come to expect from Mosaic Records. Seriously, no one else would do a set like this and if they did, it wouldn't be without the care and commitment that Scott brought to this project. And as I've chronicled before, Andreas Meyer was an absolute wizard in the studio, saving Louis's Newport 1956 vocals and making like a modern day George Avakian, with all sorts of crazy splices and edits to make. He nailed every one.

And obviously, this has been a very personal project for me, as well. Three years ago tomorrow (also my daughter's birthday), I saw my book for the first time. And here we go again with the Mosaic set, which is truly a sequel, or at least a companion, to the book, right down to the cover photos, which come from the same Paris concert in late 1955:

This here blog has been pretty much dedicated to Mosaic updates and news for the past year. I know some readers out there are anxious for me to get back to my excitable commentary on Armstrong recordings...and I'm anxious to get back to that myself. I'm sure I'll continue to have Mosaic news to report throughout the summer--reviews, public appearances, etc.--but once the excitement dies down, I, too, am planning to get back to tackling so many of the Armstrong recordings I've yet to write about.

But not yet. If you need me, I'll be listening to this set!

Thanks for all the support and for those who have purchased it and are planning to purchase it, please enjoy!

And as always, Pops, it's all for you, Louis, all for you.

Standing in the den of the Louis Armstrong House Museum with Pops smiling over my shoulder.


Todd said...

Congratulations! And thanks so much for all your hard work on this project, beginning with your efforts to convince Mosaic to pursue it.

baz said...

Just back from safari and seeing this for the first time - Bravo! The headline should read GOOD GUYS WIN.