CBC-Toronto – Dominion Network – Jazz Unlimited – November 10, 1953 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
Growing up in Detroit, I remember spending hours listening to the radio stations that beamed across the border from Canada and all the different music we had access to. Like most radio at the time, it was a grab-bag of styles and genres, and in the 1950s it was still the medium that mixed comedy and talk-shows and daytime serials on every given day. But most nights it was music and it was music my parents put me to sleep to – the radio droning quietly on as the dial sat patiently glowing a soft golden shadow across the room. I had no idea what I was listening to at the time, but I remember it was comforting and assuring and probably formed my intense love of music in all genres for the rest of my life.
A few years ago, I happened across a collection of old tapes; all from the early 1950s and none labeled as to their contents other than a scribbled “good Jazz” or “okay to erase” across each box. The tapes were very old – one was penciled 1953 on the spine of a box. At least I had some information to go on.
Playing the tapes – the sounds were dim and distant with the stations fading in and out before finally settling in. The Jazz in question on the box came from one of those Canadian radio stations. A station in Toronto. A program called Jazz Unlimited – one hour and half hour snippets were contained on many of the reels – sometimes fading into other stations – stations from Upstate New York or programs in French from Quebec, but always drifting back to Jazz Unlimited and the occasional identification as The CBC Dominion Network. There was an unmistakeable feeling of familiarity in these recordings. The music itself I had come to know and love over the years. But these tapes – this dim-distant sound – the announcer; I heard these before. Couldn’t put my finger on it, but it was a warm rush of familiarity – like seeing a friend you lost touch with for 50 years – the exterior was a bit beat up, but the sounds, the distant notes, instantly brought me back to those nights I stared at the softly glowing dial, drifting off to sleep. My friend came back for a belated visit.
No doubt, you’ll listen to this tape and wonder what all the waxing nostalgic was about. It’s a place in time and, from what I understand, the CBC is a LOT different now than it was in 1953, as is everything else in media. Maybe its a social commentary on where we’ve been and where we’re going. Maybe it’s an example of what people were listening to, almost 70 years ago. A lot of great music and a lot you might not be familiar with. The tape, being from 1953 and all, is made of paper, so the sound is even more of a challenge, on top of being distant. Still . . . .
Hit the Play button and give it five minutes – no obligations. No preaching.