WALL OF TEXT WARNING
I was hoping some researchers could step forward and shed some light on this mystery.
As I understand it, the sessions were funded by a Count Sergio Sangiorgi
, and organized by another man named Christian Livorness
. Circa 1960 the discs were sold to an RCA executive who proceeded to release a few of the tunes on an album called "Djangology" in 1961. It has been debated whether they are the true masters or simply second-generation copies, with the masters being or having been in storage within the Italian radio station archives, or perhaps owned by Count Sergio Sangiorgi or his heirs.
This release had a total of 12 tracks. (The CD re-release has 12 bonus tracks). More 1961 RCA LP's would follow with other tracks from these sessions. Notably a three-part series of LP:s, "Django Reinhardt & Le Quintette Du Hot Club De France" Volumes 1, 2 and 3.
HOWEVER, not all the tunes from these sessions were released by RCA, (at least not at first) some weren't released until EMI Pathé's 20-volume DJANGOLOGIE set. The volumes containing the 1949-50 sessions were released in 1970 (volumes 16, 17, 18) and 1971 (volumes 19 and 20).
I believe that all subsequent releases were sourced from these early LP releases, and didn't use the original masters. Why? because they were lost
The Intégrale series has a few different sources for these recordings, some sound much better than others. Some sound even better than the great Bluebird CD re-release of the 1961 Djangology. For example "Tchaikovsky's Pathetique (Starry Night)". On the Bluebird CD, they added reverb, which just ruins it for me. The one on Intégrale sounds much better. Artillerie Lourde sounds like crap on Intégrale, and it has a ton of reverb added. That one sounds better on the Bluebird CD. The ball is thrown back and forth a few times like that between the Intégrale's sound quality and the Bluebird CD's quality. That is when I started to question what sources they had and started investigating.
It all comes down to me wanting a proper sounding HI-FI release of these recordings, much like Mosaic Records' "complete" set. However, I began to wonder if they even used the masters for those recordings, or if they were sourced from early generation LP's that used the masters.
Some of the Intégrale-exclusive recordings, like the two takes of "Chinatown, My Chinatown" are definately taken from the masters, as they were never released in any format until Intégrale Vol. 20, and the liner notes give thanks to the man who loaned them to Frémeaux for the Intégrale. They don't sound a whole lot better than other recordings already released from this time (1936). This leads me to believe that many of the recordings that we have on the Mosaic set and the Intégrale come from the original masters, but not all of them.
Some of the 1949 Rome recordings have such presence. It's what I think matters the most when it comes to sound quality. You should be able to feel the musicians' presence in the room. I listen with Sennheiser headphones and some of these recordings just pop like none other. Listen to "I got Rhythm" on the Intégrale, or "Minor Swing" and "Swing Guitars" on the Bluebird CD. Django's guitar is crystal clear. Other recordings sound like crap, Webster for example.
What happened to these discs? Where did they disappear to? Are they with Pathé or with RCA (now owned by Sony)? Does Count Sergio Sangiorgi's heirs have the actual masters? There are at least nine unissued recordings from these sessions, including another "Nuages". They were unissued due to damage, but modern optical- and laser readers could read them without damaging them, much like a modern CD player. Broken glass discs have been successfully transferred this way.
Research needs to be done to find and get a fresh re-release of these recordings and not rehashes of the same 50-60 year old LP releases. Along with the unissued recordings, if all goes well. There's just no information out there. Nobody seems to know where they went, or the entire story behind these recordings. I'm just hoping they're simply forgotten, and not lost forever.