Friday, January 11, 2019

When Jazz Got Reel

This jazz classic from Dave Brubeck reminds of when I first heard it: on the Royal Father's Sony reel-to-reel tape deck. Those open-reel beasts were the highest-end part of a high-end hi-fi system back in the 1970's. Dad's sat inside a cabinet when his system moved from my baby brother's bedroom upstairs to the newly-finished study. He didn't need any more shelving on bricks. Everything had a nice little spot behind a door.

A mix of your servant's favourite music
and moves, set to stories and observations.
This tune comes from Brubeck's landmark album "Time Out," which Dad had on pre-recorded 4-track open reel format. The four tracks represented the two stereo tracks on one side, and the other two stereo tracks on the other side of the reel. Just like a record or cassette, you flipped the reel over once one side had played its way onto the take-up spool, and played the other side, which wound back onto the original reel. It wasn't convenient for playing individual tracks, but the quality was as close as you could get to the original master tape. The tape still had noticeable hiss, something you could work around.

I discovered one reel in Dad's collection that had four Bill Cosby albums on it, and I secretly threaded it up one day while I was off from school and my parents weren't around. He still has that reel. As for that Sony, it's now in possession of my uncle, perhaps gathering dust. Perhaps not.

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