Stereo Reversal in Jazz CDs and LPs

Shelly Manne album cover

If you look at the covers of Shelly Manne’s famous sets of recordings “Shelly Manne & his men at the Black Hawk” and “Shelly Manne & his men at the Manne Hole” you will see that the drum kit is on the left and the piano is on the right but when you listen to the CDs the situation is reversed. If you want to hear the music as the club audiences would have heard it you need to reverse the Left and Right channels. Here is a list of recordings where the photographic evidence indicates this situation.

Once you realise that the stereo separation on the recordings listed above makes it clear that the hi-hat is to the right of most of the drum kit as we hear it (the drummer using his left foot) you become aware that some other recordings seem to have the drummer recorded from behind and this is a little unnatural to anyone used to hearing jazz live.

The following was posted on a Jazz site in December 2012 "The channels are indeed reversed. I knew it when I first heard it (plus, I had been to the Black Hawk and seen the setup), but it was confirmed for me by Stuart Kremsky, formerly of Fantasy Records. It was done either during the recording, the mixing or the mastering. God only knows why - maybe just a mistake. It's too bad, because that series of recordings is generally acknowledged to be one of the best-sounding live jazz recordings ever done.I correct it by listening with my headphones reversed on my head!" This means that it is highly likely that the famous set of recordings by Miles Davis, "Friday and Saturday Nights at the Black Hawk" are also reversed!

Sonatina for Oboe and Piano

This is a composition from the late 1950s which I wrote for my friend Michael and we performed it at an Informal Concert in school. It has since been heard only a few times in the subsequent years and always with me at the piano. So, in order to hear it myself, I had to produce a proper version, my handwritten original score being too spidery to be of use to either performer. That I was able to complete the project was due to the invaluable help of Roger Illingworth. You are very welcome to download the two scores and try out the work which I hope you will enjoy. If you throw caution to the winds and give a public performance, I would be delighted to attend, you can contact me through the link at the bottom of this page

Download oboe part

Download piano part

This composition has now been recorded by Susan Busby (oboe) and Richard Black (piano)

1 Sonatina
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Debussy's "Suite Bergamasque"

After playing the 18th bar before the end of the second movement "Menuet" with all the Gs natural (the key signature has them sharp) for many years I contacted Edition Peters around 1970 wondering whether I might be right. I pointed out that in the third bar following there is a sharp sign before the Gs as though to remind you of the key signature (these are called courtesy sharps/flats). The editor said that he could not agree but said he would pass on my idea to other editors and sure enough over the following decades a cursory glance at library/music shop copies of Debussy anthologies showed that suggestions that the Gs might be natural had been included. It was therefore very pleasing to hear a performance a few years ago by Jean Ives Thibaudet with the Gs natural. So.....other modifications to the greats that I indulge myself with? Bach WTC Bk 2 Prelude 14 fourth bar from the end; last bass clef B is sharp not natural to give a diminished seventh. Likewise the previous Prelude 13, first bass clef A in penultimate bar is natural not sharp echoing the harmony two bars earlier.

Listening on Headphones

Here are three movements from a Corelli Concerto Grosso ( sections 2,3 and 4 from No.1 of Opus 6) and the first four sections of the Polovtsian Dances by Borodin played either direct from the source or switched to go through an experimental circuit. The music at the start is via the new circuit. The switch is audible and the difference between the two versions not all that great. The 4th section of the Corelli is entirely via the circuit. The slight differences in loudness and tonal quality are not the point! They can be tweaked. Can you hear what the experimental circuit is trying to do? It is supposed to be moving the music outside of the head as though you are listening in the open rather than the somewhat claustrophobic headphone effect of music in between the ears. Is it effective? Would you use it if available on your usual source of listening material?

2 Headphone Heaven!
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Listening on Headphones-Binaural Recording

Here is a bit of fun: a recording I made in 1969/70 with very-much-not-a Dummy Head and two Bruel & Kjoer 1/4 inch microphones. It contains me shambolling round a room on the third floor of a building on Oxford Street opposite the then Bourne & Hollingsworth Department Store, hence the traffic noise. I identify the front/back left/right and play a track of a Henry Mancini LP through the sound system (keep listening, the whole extract is less than 4 mins) adding a few well-chosen musical thoughts of my own(!?). The giggles are from the owner of the head, Renate. In the 1980s I visited the BBC Studios where I saw the very expensive (I was assured) dummy head of German origin which had the microphones positioned internally where the eardrums would be which I found slightly puzzling as the acoustic effect of the ear canal would be duplicated.

3 Binaural Oddity!
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