Inspired with the goal of breathing new life into these classic recordings, audio clarity of mastering was paramount from the outset. In the words of Laurence Cedar, long serving mastering engineer for the Rough Guide series: ‘my first job was to eliminate the clicks, crackles, pops and thumps from these recordings. Next is to de-noise these tracks. This involves 'sampling' a piece of the track where there is only the background vinyl noise, usually at the start or the end of the track, and use that 'noise sample' as the basis for the software to clean up the recording. The results can truly be amazing but one has to be careful not to overcook this process.’ The purity of sound exceeded all our expectations and has to be heard to be fully appreciated. From the guitar riffs of Robert Johnson to the dusky voice of Billie Holiday, the music of these legends has been reborn.
The selection of music on all three releases was undertaken by Nigel Williamson, author of the Rough Guide to the Blues and music reviewer for The Times, who also delivered detailed and informative sleeve notes reflecting his deep knowledge and enduring love of Blues and Jazz. French and Spanish translations have been provided for our overseas listeners.
Each Special Edition in the Blues and Jazz Legends series includes a bonus CD of contemporaries that gives insight into the scene within which each artist performed. From the Original Divas bonus disc that accompanies the Billy Holiday release, highlighting some long forgotten women Jazz singers, to the Original Blues Masters that were inspired by Robert Johnson, each bonus disc is a wonderful release in its own right.
All of which combines to deliver a very special Rough Guide, but above all it is the quality of the sound that makes these releases so exceptional. As Lawrence Cedar puts it, ‘These classics no doubt inspired a multitude of recording artists throughout the 20th Century and can now be appreciated in ways not heard before. Enjoy!’