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Thursday, June 23, 2022

Larry Elgart And His Orchestra



Larry Elgart And His Orchestra
Recorded in Webster Hall, New York City, November 11, 13 and 18, 1958
Recording Engineer: Ernest Oelrich
Produced by Lee Schapiro
RCA Victor LPM 1961

Larry Elgart's Secret

Recently a leading national magazine brooded over the riddle that the founder of the nation's most acclaimed dance band, Larry Elgart, also seemed to have a monopoly on discriminating high fidelity fans, as if to imply a contradiction. That "far and away the best recorded sound..." come in the form of music for dancing, instead of cricket mating calls or Australian aborigines, munching moistened crackers, proved a shocking discovery for many so-called experts. Originally embattled minority, lover of exquisite recorded sound came to look among non-musical expressions for that extraordinary precision and refinement of sound by which their carefully assembled equipment could be employed to full advantage. Musicians, it was felt, and for the most part it was a correct assessment, were either not sophisticated enough in theory of electronic sound reproduction or, worse yet, inclined to view preoccupation with techniques and theories of the science of sound as a kind of artistic heresy, as if to say it was not the business of artist to trouble over the means or the quality of the ultimate impression delivered to the listener – that was the problem of engineers.

The original contribution Larry Elgart made was the discovery, back in 1945, that the artistic product achieved "live" could not be delivered in electronic reproduction with any dependable degree of verisimilitude by a naive reliance upon the miracle of modern equipment. Even at that time, the band he had conceived and organized, fronted by brother Les, won the top-ranking position among ballroom dancing aficionados. Thus it was astounding for Larry to discover that the non-dancing public was hearing something deplorably different, via the broadcasts, that the sound entering the microphones on the location. Leaning back confidently one day to listen to an "air-check" (a recording taken from their broadcast), the youthful perfectionist got the shock of his life, and resolved to learn all that could be known about the nature of sound, concluding that the "Elgart Sound" was something different, not only from listener to listener, but according to where and by what means you happened to hear it.

Fired with zeal to correct the inequities, Larry began seeking a "justice in sound." He experimented in ballroom and other "live" performance locations to reduce the difference between the conception of the sound and the esthetically diminished realization. These experiments, especially in the first groping stages, took on some pretty weird appearances. There was the time in New Jersey, when a jam-packed house of dumbfounded dancers watched Larry and a crew of workmen building a plywood semicircular wall behind the band. It was nowhere near as effective as earlier, when during rehearsals he had put the wall in front of the band.

There was much still to be done. So much for improvements, most often over the protesting heads of ballroom owners, one of whom grumbled "someday this guy will completely bury the band from sight in a forest of goofy shapes of woods and chicken-wire inventions!" Now there remained the challenge of recorded and radio sound. Larry Elgart became one of the pioneers in the exploration of the wilderness of outer sound. Examining the capacities of various apparatus, mikes, etc., Larry isolated the variable elements in the chain of reproduced sound – the original conception itself; the arrangements; studio interpretations; monitoring; and modifications of the placement of mikes and musicians. In the ensuing decade and a half, the "Elgart Sound" has become the synonym for brilliant achievement in listening pleasure.

Last year, Les left the band to pursue his own musical notions. Satisfied that RCA recording approach was, like his own, searchingly self-improving, Larry brought his consummate dance band to the Victor label. The first issue of that fortuitous union is in your hands now. – Wally Robinson

From Billboard - February 23, 1959: This package is an experience in listening pleasure. Sound-wise, it is exquisite – true high fidelity stereo; and a nod of appreciation must be given Elgart, engineer Ernest Oelrich and producer Lee Schapiro. Tunes are "Once In Love With Amy," "Beyond The Blue Horizon," "Heartaches," etc. Interesting liner notes by Wally Robinson are informative with regard to Elgart's search for true sound reproduction.

Once In Love With Amy
No Fool Like An Old Fool
You Turned The Tables On Me
Midnight Sun
Beyond The Blue Horizon
Quincy Hoppers
Are You Living', Old Man?
That Old Feeling
Sunday Drive

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