In this week’s Pop Life column, Alex Rawls talks about definitive recordings.
Rob Wagner addressed this subject once when his “Lost Children” album was coming out. He talked about having a hard time getting excited about the CD not because he wasn’t happy with it, but because the recorded versions didn’t represent anything special to him. They weren’t the best versions of those compositions that he had ever performed, only the best of those performed at the session, and when he played those compositions in the future, they would never sound exactly like the album. In short, there wasn’t really anything authoritative about those versions, even though listeners tend to treat recorded versions of songs as THE versions.
This fits in with the Ken Vandermark championed idea that recordings aren’t particularly good ways to experience a band. Hearing improvisers regularly over a period of time is a much better way to understand the essence and progression of a group’s music.
Dave Douglas is using technology to get closer to this ideal.