Rifftides reader Dave Bernard sent this inquiry:
What did muenster-dummel mean on the Norgran record jackets?
For those born after the LP era, the terms may draw a blank. Norgran was one of two labels founded by Norman Granz (1918-2001), who created Jazz At The Philharmonic in the 1940s. His other early label was Clef. Norgran and Clef eventually morphed ino Verve. Granz was a pioneer of the jazz concert and a tough, resourceful businessman. He guided the careers of Ella Fitzgerald and Oscar Peterson. He was an unyielding champion of racial equality. On JATP tours he fought back against bigoted bookers, promoters and policeand won. His mien was often dour. Whitney Balliett once wrote that he had “bullying eybrows.”
Still, as Dan Morgenstern observed when we were discussing Granz yesterday, “Norman was not without a sense of humor.” Granz found pretentiousness in the hifalutin’ hype that record companies ground out about high fidelity, so he concocted a phrase that ended up on the covers of his Norgran and Clef albums.
Jack Dummel was Granz’s favorite recording engineer. Muenster was his favorite cheese.
Looking around the internet for related information, I came across this audiophile chat list entry from a record collector excited about finding an old Billie Holiday album:
I found this gem at goodwill today. It needs some more cleaning but sounds pretty good. It says at the top-right Muenster-Dummel hi fi recording so I’m thinking it is a German recording.
Norman might have managed a smile.
Jan Stevens says
Thanks for one the most interesting jazz anecdotes I’ve heard in a very long time! I always thought that “muenster-dummel” was some sort of secret code that Granz had, or a private cataloguing notation. Now we know for sure!
Don Glander says
Norman was a giant in jazz…not only for what he produced, but provided much needed economic help to musicans who were having a hard time making a living…Is there anyone working on a bio of this great man?
(Tad Hershorn, the archivist of Rutgers University’s Institute of Jazz Studies, has spent years researching and writing Norman Granz: The Conscience of Jazz. Hershorn has a publisher, but no publication date has been announced.DR)