Intro to MP&E Midterm Project

George Avakian


Luís Zanforlin



George Avakian was born in Russia in 1919, son of Armenian parents. His family moved to New York City in the early 20’s. His career starts as he sends a letter to Columbia suggesting to produce an annotated reissue of jazz songs on LP, the label replied the letter inviting him to produce it and so he produced the industry’s first jazz reissue album series called “Hot Jazz Classics”.

After the record’s success Columbia asked him to produce LP jazz records and live performances as an effort to make popular 100 Long-Playing discs. He approached this as an opportunity to make each record complete with songs that had a similar tone or message. He was also able to record songs that normally wouldn’t sell well on singles, the artists loved that and it helped further development of modern jazz.

Louis Armstrong Plays W. C. Handy (Aunt Hagar’s Blues 1954)

This record presents Louis Armstrong and Velma Middleton playing very strong performances on songs as long as nine minutes, most of the album consists of love blues songs, the performances are playful and they sound like the musicians are just hanging out and having fun.

Ellington at Newport Live (Diminuendo And Crescendo in Blue 1956)

This fine record contains one of Duke Ellington’s band most famous performances at the Newport Jazz Festival. The ten minutes song Diminuendo And Crescendo in Blue was composed for the recording and the sound has a bit of long reverb but all sounds clear and well documented.

Miles Ahead (Miles Ahead 1957)

This record contains a great number of mellow emotional fusion jazz songs played on Miles’s flugelhorn, the songs blend from one to the other without interruption making of the sound mellower and smoother giving the impression the entire album is one long song with the same emotional tone.

Jazz Goes to College (Le Souk 1954)

This record contains a spotless performance by Dave Brubeck’s Quartet, the songs are very melodic and exciting and it also contains George’s characteristic clear long reverb live performance sound.

Our Man in Jazz (I Could Write a Book 1962)

This exciting live record consists of Sonny Rollins Quartet frenetic jazz; it sounds all a bit faster then the players confortable speed and it sounds like music played in a small bar showcasing what was there to come in the future of jazz with an experimental vibe.

George Avakian’s documents jazz on a linear trajectory that tells the past and future of each artist. His records sound clear and you can hear every instrument of the band as well as the room they are in. That approach allows the artist have an easier time putting out new musical ideas with slow innovation increments in each song of a record. Perhaps the reason his records were successful was the matching of the feeling on every song a record. Instead of feeling a feeling through one song, people could now feel the same feeling throughout multiple songs, intensifying the emotion of listening to music.