What do 300,000 records look like? Actually they don’t take up nearly as much space as you’d expect. But we love well-organized catalogs, databases, pristine collections, and finding new music when digging through old records — so we’re excited to work with RE:VIVE and Red Light Radio in Amsterdam, following renowned DJs as they sift through one of the biggest collections in The Netherlands.
RE:VIVE is an initiative from Nederlands Instituut voor Beeld en Geluid (The Netherlands Institute For Sound and Vision) that connects archives and musicians to create new productions inspired by old collections.
Earlier this year, we brought four (most electronic) DJs into the archive to poke through 300,000 records and broadcast live sets of their findings. For this edition we tweaked the formula a little, and the focus is specifically on jazz.
Below you can get to know the selectors, hear their sets, and rummage through their playlists on Discogs.
One half of Amsterdam electronic duo Juju & Jordash, Jordan GCZ grew up in Israel listening to jazz. Lots of it. So when he walked into the archive he had a clear mission: to find some Eric Dolphy records. Thanks to the archival efforts of Beeld en Geluid, he found a lot, including two recordings he’d never heard before.
Given his luck in finding two new recordings, my first question was obviously about whether he thinks archives are important. “Definitely. Especially in the disposable digital age we live in. These days new music disappears in the ether way too quickly and I think it’s directly tied to the weakening of the significance of physical formats of recorded music. I believe that in the next couple decades institutes such as these will play an even bigger role in the preservation of cultures and their narratives.”
After witnessing his fascination with Dolphy, I also wanted to know Dolphy resonated with him so heavily. “Because he starts every phrase with an atomic bomb, he counters every argument with an explosive counter argument. Always has a point to make. Never a wasted bar. He pushed the envelope from within the form.”
A true multi-instrumentalist, Dolphy was a virtuoso in alto saxophone, bass clarinet, flute, soprano clarinet, baritone saxophone and piccolo, and had extensive partnerships with Charles Mingus and John Coltrane throughout the early ’60s. He also led many groups — the recordings of which were mostly released on Prestige. In a spooky twist of fate, one of his final recordings, Last Date, was a radio broadcast of a concert in Hilversum in the Netherlands, recorded at VARA Studios — just down the road from where Beeld en Geluid stands today. It was also recorded on June 2.
Other favorites of Jordan’s include Thelonious Monk, Ornette Coleman, Miles, Coltrane, and Mingus, “because they were original. All singular voices.” You can hear some of them alongside Dolphy in the recording below, or view them in the set list on Discogs.
Jasper from City Records and Erik from RecordFriend (two Amrsterdam shops down the street from one another) have been spinning records together for over 15 years. The duo has a show on Red Light Radio called Jazzdiggers. With a name like that, you can imagine that Jasper and Erik were in heaven at the archive. They took full advantage of the wall to wall records, putting together a set that would cost about around €5,000 (about $5,500 USD) to buy for yourself on Discogs!
They were of course impressed with the abundance of rare gems, like original Blue Note pressings rarely see in the wild, but like most avid diggers, their greatest moments came from discovering things they’d never heard before. “The element of surprise, not knowing what the music brings you, that’s the nicest things about digging. And it’s even better when you find that certain track that really moves you.”
To them this is also one of the reasons archives like the one at Beeld en Geluid are important to keep alive. It’s always fun to dig through huge collections and find new sounds, but in this context they are important for helping build an understanding of where we’ve come from. Above all, though, Jasper and Erik seemed concerned with making jokes and having a good time. “We didn’t look particularly for records to educate people. I they like them, fine. If not, that’s fine, too! But as far as archives go it’s good to preserve for future generations…although they will probably have a completely different view on preservation than we have now. History has proven this.”
Hear their broadcast below, and browse their (somewhat expensive) selections on Discogs.
Future Vintage is a show on Red Light Radio all about the past, present, and future of soul, jazz, hip-hop, electronic, and psychedelic music. Hosts Radna and Reinier go against the common thread in music/DJ culture of competitive digging for the “rarest” records. “This doesn’t interest us so much. We rather look for interesting relations between various genres, times, labels, voices, sounds, both intuitively as well as based on our personal taste and knowledge.”
A big focus of their radio show is trying to bring together music that combines abstract elements with more accessible ones, a juxtaposition that can be seen in their broadcast from the archive, which places Sun Ra and John Cage next to Quincy Jones and Charlie Haden. “When making a radio show, we have a certain rhythm or build-up in mind, which sets an atmosphere, but also surprises people. We play not always too ‘flawless’ because a sudden change, or a silence or disruption can also wake up the listener and bring back their attention. We’re not too afraid of chasing people away. A surprise can also be something recognizable.”
Given their disposition for linking tropes across genres, the constraint to only choose jazz records was their biggest challenge on the day. “We usually don’t play only jazz. And when we play jazz records, I think we’re more interested in the artists and compositions that push boundaries, and in that way close the space between genres. So a jazz record might have a weird sax sound that links to avant-garde music, or an ’80s new wave song might replicate a jazz instrumentation or feeling. For purists this might be a horrible jazz song, but in our eyes it’s amazing that these people made a jazz song with a punk attitude.”
Even with this constraint, though, I think they managed to pull together a really broad and diverse selection. Their set, the tracklist for which you can find on Discogs, blends a lot of contemporary, free improvisation, free jazz, modal and post-bop. You can see at on Discogs right now.