For music fans interested in the "where" and "how" questions behind their favorite records, Temples of Sound: Inside the Great Recording Studios is a rare gem. Jim Cogan and William Clark match the "high-fidelity" quality of their source material with brilliant writing, photography, and layout. This beautiful book chronicles the history, designs, techniques, and personnel responsible for so much modern music.
Temples of Sound: Inside the Great Recording Studios covers all musical styles û rooms and electronics are equal-opportunity, after allùbut jazz fans will pay special attention to 6 of the profiles. Capitol Studios was home to many famous master sessions by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Nat "King" Cole, Peggy Lee, Dean Martin, Judy Garland, Louis Prima and Keely Smith. J & M "Cosimos Factory" recorded the jambalaya which was and is New Orleans music: "Fats" Domino Roy Byrd Guitar Slim Ray Charles Little Richard and other flavors. Chess studio where the Delta blues flowed into Chicago was a fertile shore for Etta James Howlin" Wolf Leonard Chess Willie Dixon even Bo Diddley Chuck Berry and Buddy Guy. Another great Chicago studio complex Universal was a fortress for jazz in the fifties and beyond: Ella Fitzgerald Count Basie Nat "King" Cole Dizzy Gillespie Sarah Vaughan Stan Kenton Oscar Peterson and the Duke himself. Back in New York the Columbia studio recorded Miles Davis' Kind of Blue Billie Holliday's Lady in Satin and Dave Brubeck's Time Out all in the same year!
Perhaps the most valuable treasure in this chest is coverage of Rudy Van Gelder's New Jersey home studios (both his parents' original Hackensack living room and his later creation at Englewood Cliffs). Nowhere else will you find more information and photos on this famously secretive audio engineer and architect (except maybe the TapeOp Sept/Oct "04 magazine article a year later). He is still alive and working still designing state-of-the-art equipment still engineering the highest quality jazz recordings you"ll ever hear. Though his output has barely slowed it could be thoughts of his own mortality leading to a little more revelation. Don"t expect Van Gelder to give away the farm though. The mysterious sonic quality on those great Miles Davis John Coltrane and other masterpiece albums remains mostly hidden. We"ll just have to keep trying to decipher or at lease emulate it for ourselves.
True audiophiles may be disappointed by the surprising lack of gear lists or technical specifications but absorbing anecdotes abound. A unique appendix provides top-ten lists for each of the 15 profiled studios; collecting hit songs which best represent the unique sound of their birthplaces. Alas the days of free Napster have come and gone.
Jim Cogan and William Clark really dug deep into the stories behind these modern "temples" unearthing plenty of engaging human interest along the way. Sometimes behind-the-scenes coverage spoils and demystifies the art. In the case of Temples of Sound: Inside the Great Recording Studios exhaustive research is balanced with reverential awe. Cogan and Clark manage to increase our appreciation for records and their respective recording studios each masterpieces in their own rights. Jazz fans and everyone who enjoys well-recorded music of the past are urged to "get to Temple"!
David Seymour is a freelance jazz journalist in Saint Louis Missouri USA.