59th GRAMMY Awards Best Historical Album

The 59th annual GRAMMYs are history now.  Big congratulations go to Steve Berkowitz & Jeff Rosen (compilation producers) and Mark Wilder (mastering engineer) for their beautiful Bob Dylan box set, The Cutting Edge 1965-1966: The Bootleg Series, Vol.12 (Collector's Edition).  Even though the Music of Morocco team didn't take home a GRAMMY, it was a fun ride all the same.  We kept good company to be sure; unreleased recordings from Vladimir Horowitz, an Ork Records retrospective from Numero Group (the first punk rock collection to ever be nominated for Best Historical), and a breathtaking collection of the earliest known wax cylinder recordings from Archeophone Records. 

Music of Morocco producer, Philip Schuyler summed up the whole experience nicely on his Facebook page:  

"For those who don’t know the back story, Paul Bowles conceived of an anthology of Moroccan music around 85 years ago, in the early 1930s. In 1959, he realized his dream in an intense, 4½ month recording expedition. He deposited 60 hours of tape in the Archive of Folk Song at Library of Congress, and in 1972, the Archive published a 2-LP set of excerpts from the collection. Sometime in the mid-1990s, Bill Nowlin, of Rounder Records, had the idea of reissuing the original album on CD and, at Paul’s suggestion, asked me to edit it. Time passes while I collect my thoughts. More time passes. Stlll more. By the time I finished the notes, about 15 years later, Rounder had been sold and the new owners were not interested in obscure recordings of Moroccan music. Bill Nowlin never gave up, however, and he continued to look for a home for the project until he found Dust-to-Digital, where Lance and April Ledbetter had a vision of how important this could be. Michael Graves and Rick Fisher made the music sound as good as new. Barb Bersche put it all in a magnificent treasure chest as beautiful and clever as any I’ve ever seen.
Philip Schuyler and Michael Graves
After collaborating remotely with the team for years, it was wonderful to meet Lance, April, Mike, and Barb for the first time at the Grammys. We missed all the others who couldn’t be there: Bill Nowlin himself, whom I still hope to meet someday; Irene Herrmann, Paul’s musical executor, who has been unfailingly supportive of the project; and the many people at the Library of Congress who have kept the original tapes safe through six decades, including Judith Gray, Jennifer Cutting, and the late Alan Jabbour, who oversaw the first publication at LOC, and who approved the re-edition. I think that Paul would have been satisfied with the results, and I hope that Moroccan scholars and musicians will be, too. The moral of the story is not, as you might think, “Procrastination Pays,” but rather, “We get by with a lot of help from our friends.”
Michael Graves, April Ledbetter and Lance Ledbetter
Our category at the Grammys included unreleased live recordings by Vladimir Horowitz, the first wax cylinders of Gospel music from 125 years ago, and bootleg tapes of Bob Dylan in the mid-1960s. Dylan is Dylan, so it was no surprise when they won. Still, there’s no shame in losing to a Nobel Laureate, and it turns out that the cliché is true: it really was an honor just to be in the company of our fellow nominees. I like to imagine going to dinner with Bowles, Horowitz, Dylan, and the pioneers of Gospel, but it was just as much fun to hang out at the events with my son, Karim."

Oxford American's 18th music issue

The new issue in the wild at our local Whole Foods.

The new issue in the wild at our local Whole Foods.

Oxford American Magazine's 18th annual music issue, Visions of the Blues is on stands now.  With this issue, Oxford American is celebrating one of the South’s greatest cultural exports: blues music.  For the second year in a row, the music for the accompanying CD was mastered (along with some restoration for some of the old 78 sources) here at Osiris Studio.  

The 23-song CD features classic blues (Charley Patton, Allen Toussaint, Big Mama Thornton) alongside contemporary artists reinterpreting the genre (Alabama Shakes, Bassekou Kouyaté, Regina Carter), plus rare recordings (including a never-before-released vintage CeDell Davis track). The magazine contains new work by some of the best music writers of our time (Greil Marcus, Daphne A. Brooks, Elijah Wald, John Jeremiah Sullivan) and essays by first-time Oxford American contributors (Jeffery Renard Allen, Rashod Ollison, Sarah Bryan, Zandria F. Robinson), as well as stories from OA regulars (Amanda Petrusich, Jewly Hight, Cynthia Shearer, David Ramsey).

The issue comes in multiple covers, showcasing three generations of blues artists: John Lee Hooker, Bonnie Raitt, and Adia Victoria.