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> Haunting sax riff in Paul Godwin tune
post Feb 26 2009, 06:01 AM
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Does anyone feel a kind of twinge when hearing the haunting sax riffs in Paul Godwin's "Wunderschöne Frau, wir beide kennen uns doch" (heard in the
stream's regular rotation)? I wonder if the piece was recorded with some kind of accoustical artifact that gave the sax section a bit of reverb or if the
cats just played it that way (or perhaps the signal processing of this particular record added something a bit freaky)? Every time I hear it I get a chill
and just thought I'd toss it out for discussion.




Here's a different recording of the same arrangement, substituting strings for some of the sax parts; here too is a far-away echo-chamber sort of feel
in those passages but not as pronounced as the Godwin version:

This post has been edited by cybertheque: Feb 26 2009, 06:46 AM
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post Feb 26 2009, 03:25 PM
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I know exactly what you are talking about - and what you describe is somewhat common on certain late '20s and early '30s recordings. You can hear it on certain recordings by the great German jazz band The Weintraubs Syncopators. You can also hear it in the band behind both the English and German language recordings by Marlene Dietrich of "Falling In Love Again" which are featured in Radio Dismuke. I have no idea exactly what is responsible for that sound or why it is common to German recordings from the period but rarely heard on recordings from the USA or UK. But it IS very, very haunting and I too feel a certain kind of wonderful chill whenever I hear such recordings. It is one of several things that make German recordings from that period so unique and special to me.

And all of it is very haunting whenever I keep in mind the historical context of that time and place. Germany was in the process of descending into a totalitarian hell hole universe - a world where an individual human being counted for nothing and was little more than sacrificial fodder for the all-powerful State. It was becoming a place where neighbors, colleagues and school mates were suddenly segregated out of daily contact and later deported to camps and eventually murdered without any significant popular protest at all. And yet, if one were alien visitor from another world with zero ability to understand the language or grasp what was going on politically and was only able to walk the streets and absorb things such as music and the style of things such as automobiles, clothing, industrial design, graphics on advertisements, it would have been one of the coolest and most wonderful places in the world to take in some of the very best aspects of 1930s pop culture.

Imagine what must be worse: having to endure a hell that LOOKS and FEELS the part - or having to endure a hell that, on a superficial level, evokes images and emotions of a paradise sort of world that one is painfully and cruelly being denied. The Soviet tyranny that existed at the same time was every bit as horrible as Hitler's regime and, based on the sheer number of victims, even worse - but Soviet Russia was a backwards, shabby country that looked and felt like a hell hole in pretty much every way. But that wasn't the case with Germany. I find that contrast to be VERY haunting - and the incredibly wonderful music from that time and place makes everything even more haunting. And what is frightening is that, in some respects, the contrast was intentional. I have read that in some of the concentration camps certain inmates with musical talent were forced to perform in orchestras and, as victims were being sent to their deaths in the gas chambers, they were marched past the orchestras which played very beautiful and joyous Viennese waltzes. Obviously there was no propaganda value to be gained from helpless people about to be murdered - the only motive for something like that would be just one final act of cruel taunting torture.
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