Roy DuNann Update

Here is part of a Rifftides piece from last March:

When I listen to the two-track analog stereo recordings Roy DuNannDuNann.jpg made for the Contemporary label shortly after the perfection of stereo in the 1950s, I curse the boneheads who, because they could, introduced multi-track, multi-microphone recording. Digital capability then came along with 587-channel mixing boards and made post production a sci-fi adventure that compounded all of the engineering wizards’ sins. Red Mitchell was right; simple isn’t easy. That applies to everything in life, especially audio engineering. Rudy Van Gelder, nominated by acclamation as the god of jazz recording, was better in early stereo than after he got all the toys. For one thing, in the fifties his pianos sounded more like pianos.

I concluded that piece,

Last I heard, Roy DuNann was still with us, living in Seattle. Won’t someone bring him out of retirement?

DuNann has not come out of retirement, but It developed that the jazz journalist Thomas Conrad found him five years earlier and wrote a long piece about him for Stereophile magazine. Whether reading about audio gear and techniques makes you quiver or you’re a listener who simply relishes quality sound, this warm-hearted article will make you feel good. It includes a sidebar list of some of the best albums DuNann recorded at Contemporary. To read Tom’s piece, click here.
Last fall, Rick Chin and other members of the Pacific Northwest chapter of the Audio Engineering Society invited DuNann, now well into his eighties, to come to a meeting and talk about his achievements. Clarinetist William O. Smith, who was on several Contemporary albums that DuNann recorded, also spoke. To visit the AES website and listen to an MP3 of that meeting (in excellent sound, of course), go here. You’ll find the MP3 links at the bottom of the page about the meeting, which also has photos of DuNann, Smith and Conrad. When Rick Chin sent me a message about this, he wrote, “The files are rather large in the interest of fidelity.” I hope that your computer can accommodate them. Long live two-track stereo.

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