Bobby Hutcherson – Now! (1969) with Eugene McDaniels & Harold Land

Bobby Hutcherson – Now!
Released 1969
BlueNote Records (BST 84333)

This reissue BN 73164

The first time I ever heard Bobby Hutcherson was probably on Eric Dolphy’s “Out To Lunch.” Even though everything on that album is noteworthy, memorable, and intriguing, I found Hutcherson’s work there particularly deserving of those superlatives. Capable of delicate texture and agile flight in his playing, he more than earns his reputation of a big fish in a rather small pond (post-bop vibraphonists). This album is something of a best-kept secret – the presence of not only Harold Land, whose other collaborations with Hutcherson are acclaimed by critics and audiences, but also Eugene McDaniels and Candido, should make this record stand out on anyone’s radar.

Eugene McDaniels’ career had one of the strangest trajectories in music: coming into his art as a bop jazz crooner who would sometimes share stages with Miles Davis, Cannonball Adderley, and Ornette Coleman, and then being catapulted to pop stardom with a string of R&B hit records in the 60s, morphing into a politicized soul-jazz-funk artist who made two amazing albums for Atlantic in the early 70s, then writing some notable songs (including a #1 hit) for Roberta Flack, and then mostly disappearing. These sessions were cut slightly before his landmark “Outlaw” album was released (coming soon to a blog near you, by the way).

The usage of a vocal chorus on this album remind me somewhat of “Up With Donald Byrd” (1965) but way more abstract. The album “Now!” is associated with Black Power consciousness. McDaniels’ lyrics may not be as weirdly radical as on his own Atlantic releases that inspired Kissinger to suggest wiretapping his house or whatever, but they are still pretty out-there. They unfold more in the form of tone-poems than straightforward lyrics. Some of them are rather hard to make out (the song ‘Now!’ for example) and a search around the interwebs yielded no results for transcriptions. Here are some samples from the opening cut –

Free soul soul free touch me heal you change
Lock your lost key touch me heal you change
Free soul soul free touch me free me
Touch the spiral falling upwards
God is watching, God is dying, slow change

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Eugene McDaniels

Anchoring the quintet is drummer Joe Chambers, whose albums credits also include Freddie Hubbard, Wayne Shorter, Andrew Hill, McCoy Tyner, Charles Mingus, and Archie Shepp. His work, described somewhere as “cymbal-driven forward motion” is propulsive and staggering, bringing that motion to the brink of collapse in places, a mimetic counterpoint to the lyrics.

The next track, “Hello To The Wind”, written by Chambers, is gorgeous in description-defying ways. It would be better to let the listener to experience this with no preambling words of introduction or commentary. It grabs you from the opening measures of the guitar arpeggios and McDaniels voice. A little more than halfway through this piece McDaniels breaks into some vocalizations that fall somewhere between Qallawi singing and Leon Thomas, curling my toenails and raising the hair on the back of my neck, and Candido breaks into very heavy and relentless santería territory on the congas. This cut might well be the best example I can think of that blends accessible melodic figures (damn near ‘pop music’) dropped amid post-bop intimations of free jazz

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I was thinking the other day that I have most likely overused the word “haunting” during the nearly two years this blog has been active . What do we mean when we call a piece of music haunting? Do we mean that a melodic line lingers in our consciousness long after the music comes to a stop? Wouldn’t we just call that “catchy”? Or is it the sensation of that melody, harmonic internal, rhythmic change, coming back hours and hours later, “coming back to haunt us”? Does it remind us of things we can’t forget, or refuse to forget? Or do not want to forget. Not yet. All the tales of wandering spirits roaming among us have at least this much in common – that such shades and ghosts call to us because they have not received the proper rites required for a peaceful rest in the afterworld. This is where the difference between forgetting and letting go is salient. There are things we should not, ever, forget – the experience of love found or faded; our friends and ancestors gone from this earth; the rape of your land, your sisters and mothers; the enslavement of your people. Finding peace is no easy road and there are plenty of reasons we might not want to find it, or let it find us. We become haunted. It abets our hunger for vengeance or vindication, it is aided by the sting of slights, loss, and injustice. The song “Now!” was composed by Hutcherson for a lost friend, the bassist Albert Stinson.

After the song-suite of the first side, the second side of this record stretches out. Wally Richardson plunks down dissonant squalls of understated guitar on “The Creators,” the electric piano of Stanley Cowell punching out a carpet of sound, the bass and drums locked in a smoky and deliciously repetitive paean to the old gods ending in hand-claps and more Candido. The final cut “Black Heroes” is more hard bop and the lyrics here are the ones most obviously connected with black consciousness and civil rights. The word “now” again enters our awareness. “Lies are wearing so thin the people can see through them now. Now. Freedom now! Right now!” Harold Land takes the first solo, twisting around the main theme in contortions of Coltrane; Hutcherson follows with quick jolts to our blood pressure. Be careful. Did I mention Bobby Hutcherson is on this record? I haven’t talked about him much because it goes without saying that he is in his element here as master of ceremonies. This album qualifies for the Flabbergast stock phrase of “a singular addition to his discography.” It really is. I wouldn’t lie to you.

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After the original album are bonus tracks from a 1978 platter called “Blue Note Meets the L.A. Philharmonic” (BN-LA870) that also featured Carmen McRae and Earl Klugh. Normally these Blue Note CD’s feature alternate takes from the same sessions, a practice that tends to appeal mostly to the jazz fanatics. But this time it’s quite different, as we get to hear the song-suite from the original album’s first half played 8 years later with full orchestra and new arrangements. I miss the inspired playing of the original quintet (especially Chambers and Land) but these guys aren’t chopped liver either and Eddie Marshall lays down some serious funk. The real treat here is the orchestra, giving a fifth dimension to what were already transcendent pieces of music. The sound is nothing short of stunning on this live recording. Bereft of McDaniel’s lyrics, the orchestra still manages to bring out the grace and fluidity of his contributions, hanging in the air like an after-image on our aural retinas. After the reprise of “Now!” we can hear an enchanted audience in what is almost certainly a standing ovation. Rather than the often-repetitive alternate takes for the jazz scholar, this addition to the CD version is a wonderful coda to what may be Hutcherson’s most overlooked album.

1 Slow Change 7:14
2 Hello To The Wind 5:56
3 Now 2:44
4 The Creators 12:32
5 Black Heroes 7:03
6 Slow Change 5:05
7 Now 2:49
8 Hello To The Wind 3:06
9 Now (Reprise) 1:43

Personnel: Tracks 1 – 5: Bobby Hutcherson: Vibraphone; Harold Land: Tenor Sax; Kenny Barron: Piano; Stanley Cowell: Piano; Herbie Lewis: Bass; Joe Chambers: Drums: Wally Richardson: Guitar, Electric Guitar; Candido Camero: Conga; Gene McDaniels: Vocals; Hilda Harris: Vocals; Albertine Robinson: Vocals; Christine Spencer: Vocals.

Tracks 6 – 9: Bobby Hutcherson: Vibraphone Manny Boyd: tenor and soprano saxophone; George Cables: piano; James Leary: bass; Eddie Marshall: drums; Bobbye Porter Hall: percussion; Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Calvin Simmons.

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Nina Simone – Nina Simone Sings the Blues (1967) Japanese K2 remastering

nina

As a rule I avoid weddings and funerals. They both represent transitional stages for which I’m not ready, and – if I had my way – would put off indefinitely. However I’ve often sat around thinking about what music I would like to have playing at both of them, should I be so unfortunate as to have them occur. In particular, *who* would play, since of course it would need to be live music. Having ruled out Madonna and Roberto Carlos as outside of my budget, I content myself with fantasies of being serenaded from beyond the grave. Disembodied spirits are relatively inexpensive. Sure, obtaining the necessary components for the blood sacrifice to get them to show up on time can be a lot of work, but think of all the money you will save on lodging and air transportation. Having established at least this much, I can move on to selecting which resident of the afterlife will perform at my wedding/funeral. Now is when it gets really tricky, because a lot depends on who I am marrying and/or the manner of my demise. Isaac Hayes, for example, would seem an ideal choice but I’m not sure I could live up to the turned-on expectations he would no doubt incur in my bride. She might even run off with him, across the great divide. And Black Moses singing at my funeral would be just, well, kind of weird. Then there are the artists whose palettes are truly universal. John Coltrane would work perfectly at either of these life ceremonies, for example. The list of these candidates is few in number, but among them is definitely my High Priestess, Nina Simone.

Nina could change from Broadway show tunes, to gospel, to blues, to soul and funk without making a big deal about it, without a lot of stylistic pomp to say “hey, look at me, I am going to sing some blues for you now.” Everything she did was done with conviction. It didn’t surprise me to learn recently that Nina suffered from some variety of bipolar disorder, what used to be called manic-depression. The electrically-charged highs and lows of her emotional range and vocal register were one and the same. Whether or not she is coyly telling you how fun it is to be kissed in the dark, or asking for more sugar in her bowl, you know better than to second-guess her sincerity. Whether she is singing Gershwin, or a twelve-bar blues arrangement, or the scandalously secular gospel-cry of “Real Real,” she is never anything less than completely present, in the moment, at the piano, on the microphone, transforming a studio into a dimly-lit smoke-hazed jazz club or a back-country house party. The empress between the pillars of light and dark, her suffering is also her wisdom, and you should thank the universe for being lucky enough to have HEARD her in your short lifetime.

nina

This album was the first long-player for Nina’s tenure with RCA/Victor after leaving the Philips label. If the studio staff had anything to do with assembling the backing band for this one –and I believe they did, as Rudy Stevenson is the only musician here that had been regularly playing with her, if I’m not mistaken — well, then they deserve some mighty thanks. Bernard Purdie. Bernard Purdie! Bernard PURDIE!! The man. ‘Pretty’ Purdie once again shows his ability to play to the song, hanging back in the mix. And one of my favorite under-rated guitarists, Eric Gale, was also on the sessions. There is also a collaboration with Langston Hughes on the socially-topical “Backlash Blues.”

This record isn’t exactly obscure, but if you are thinking, ‘Meh, I’ve already heard this one,” then think again. This is a Japanese pressing made using the proprietary K2 technology developed by JVC to avoid digital artifacts in the analog conversion and reduce jitter — meticulous care is taken at every step of the mastering and duplication process, held to very exacting standards. If all that doesn’t mean anything to you, just know this: the Japanese are obsessively and famously crazy about good audiophile-quality CD pressings, and have by and large not succumbed to the “loudness wars” that have plagued CD remasters in ‘The Occident’ wherein all dynamics are made ruler-flat so that everything will sound “good” (read: the same) on your Mp3 player or in your car. I’ve heard several CDs of this material and this one is by far the most sonically stunning.

There are few things quite as annoying to me than having the same music endlessly repackaged. This goes for many of the “new” high-definition formats being shoved down consumer’s throats lately (with little knowledge at the consumption end about the realities of any actual differences), but in fact it is part of a game the music business has played for at least a half century: how to milk the most revenue out of the same piece of recorded music. In the 1990s this took the form of CD reissues that threw together a bunch of material by an artist to give you the impression that you were getting something you didn’t already have, perhaps something previously unreleased. Such was the case with a European RCA/Novus collection of Nina Simone called simply “The Blues,” which has all the tracks on “Sings The Blues” with an additional seven songs. If I had been paying closer attention when I bought it impulsively, I might have been more wary of the fact that the first half was even in the same running order as “Sings The Blues,” but I was hell-bent on getting my hands on some kind of rarities, unreleased outtakes or live recordings or some such. In fact, the CD is just a repackaging of this album with some extra material thrown in. (To be fair, perhaps the original “Sings The Blues” was not available on CD at that time, but the packaging is ambiguous to put it mildly, and this title should probably have been deleted after proper reissues saw the light of day..) There is also a recent 2006 remaster that includes two bonus tracks. As a favor (if not quite a guide) to the perplexed, I am going to compile this material into another separate post, but for now let’s just enjoy Nina Simone Sings The Blues as it was meant to be enjoyed. The booklet for the 2006 pressing, which contains both original and new liner notes, is included just for kicks here.

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1. “Do I Move You” (Simone) – 2:46
2. “Day and Night” (Stevenson) – 2:35
3. “In the Dark” (Green) – 2:57
4. “Real Real” (Simone) – 2:21
5. “My Man’s Gone Now” (Gershwin, Heyward) – 4:16
6. “Backlash Blues” (Hughes, Simone) – 2:31
7. “I Want a Little Sugar in My Bowl” (Simone) – 2:32
8. “Buck” (Stroud) – 1:52
9. “Since I Fell for You” (Johnson) – 2:52
10. “The House of the Rising Sun” (Traditional) – 3:53
11. “Blues for Mama” (Lincoln, Simone) – 4:00

* Nina Simone: vocal, piano
* Eric Gale: guitar
* Rudy Stevenson: guitar
* Ernie Hayes: organ
* Bob Bushnell: bass
* Bernard Purdie: drums, timpani
* Buddy Lucas: harmonica, tenor sax

Gary Bartz – Anthology 1970-1977 (2004)

Gary Bartz
“Anthology”
2004 Soul Brother Records (CD SBPJ 23)
Made in England
Recordings from 1971 – 1977

1 Celestial Blues 7:35
2 Uhuru Sasa 6:47
3 Drinking Song 5:16
4 Dr. Follow’s Dance 2:39
5 I’ve Known Rivers 8:34
6 I Wanna Be Where You Are 7:14
7 Ju Ju Man 9:11
8 Sea Gypsy l 6:19
9 Gentle Smiles s 4:22
10 Music Is My Sanctuary 6:21
11 Carnaval de l’Espirit 5:55
12 My Funny Valentine 7:11

Single-artist compilations are a difficult thing. It can be hard to represent an artist’s trajectory faithfully and still produce a coherently listenable document, let alone please everyone in the process, especially if the subject in question is a jazz artist. Soul Brother Records deserves massive props for pulling this off with this Gary Bartz anthology, which presents highlights from his most inspired post-bop output of the 1970s. My introduction to Bartz was, like many people, via his work with the Mizell Brothers, but there was so much, much more to the man’s legacy. Soul Brother makes the smart move of presenting this material in roughly chronological order beginning with selections from the incredible two volumes of “Harlem Bush Music.” Spiritual, socially-conscious, adventurous and above all soulful, this stuff soars and the vocals of Andy Bey qualify as one of the best-kept secrets of the universe.

Nobody seems to have passed through the ranks of Miles Davis’ various ensembles and come out unchanged but Bartz seemed to have been doing his own thing when Miles picked him up for a brief stint that yielded the semi-live album “Live Evil” (more complete material from those concerts appearing on 2005’s “Cellar Door” release). But performing with Davis’ post-Bitches Brew lineup (at the time including Airto on percussion, Keith Jarrett on electric piano, and McLaughlin still on guitar) may have inspired Bartz to stretch out even further in his work as a bandleader. But Bartz has plenty of other credits under his belt as a sideman, most prominently with McCoy Tyner but he’s also recorded with Woodie Shaw, Pharoah Sanders, and Charles Mingus.

The playing on the tune “Drinking Song”, the oldest piece on this collection, is simply fierce as the whole band raises your consciousness out of your bohemian apathy. Bartz pays homage to Langston Hughes with the track “I’ve Known Rivers” off the live record of the same name. Four entire tracks from the Mizell collaborations (the records “The Shadow Do” and “Music Is My Sanctuary”) may be a little disproportional considering that stuff already has wider exposure, but you won’t hear me complaining because it does indeed flow very nicely. Wrapping up the set with a sultry, melancholic reading of “My Funny Valentine” with vocalist Syreeta is a very nice finishing touch to this very satisfactory anthology. It’s also good to know that this disc apparently has Gary’s own approval as he wrote short note about the release and about music as a healing force to be included in the booklet.

I am so happy listening to this collection that I am planning on a mini-flood of Gary Bartz in the weeks to come, so prepare yourselves and meanwhile enjoy this teaser to whet your musical appetite.

Bartz
Bartz

 

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Hugh Masekela – Home Is Where the Music Is (1972)

HUGH MASEKELA
Home Is Where The Music Is
Original release 2xLP on Blue Thumb BTS 6003
Reissue 2008 Verve B0011230-02

Part Of A Whole 9:37
Minawa 9:38
The Big Apple 7:52
Unhome 5:20
Maseru 7:12
Inner Crisis 5:52
Blues For Huey 6:26
Nomali 7:20
Maesha 11:49
Ingoo Pow-Pow (Children’s Song) 6:47 Continue reading

Gato Barbieri – El Pampero (1971)

Jorge Ben needs a Jorge Break. And so I bring you…


Gato Barbieri
“El Pampero”
Released 1971 as Flyind Dutchman FD-10151

This reissues 2002 BMG France / RCA Victor Gold Series

1. El Pampero (Gato Barbieri)
2. Mi Buenos Aires Querido (Carlos Gardel – Alfredo Lepera)
3. Brasil (Aldo Cabral – Benedicto Lacerda)
4. El Arriero (Atahualpa Yupanqui)
5. El Gato (Oliver Nelson)

Tracks 1 through 4 recorded on June 18, 1971 at the Montreux Jazz Festival, Switzerland

Personnel: Lonnie Liston Smith, piano; Chuck Rainey, electric bass; Bernard Purdie, drums; Sonny Morgan, conga; Nana Vasconcelos, percussion, berimbau; Gato Barbieri, saxophone, vocal on track 4.

Track 5 recorded in May, 1972 at RCA Studios, NYC. Personnel includes:
Romeo Pengue, alto flute, English horn; Phil Bodner, flute, alto flute; Danny Bank, bass clarinet; Oliver Nelson, alto saxophone, conductor, arranger; Hank Jones, piano; David Spinozza, guitar; Ron Carter, bass; Bernard Purdie, drums; Airto Moreira, percussion.

Phenomenal live set from Gato Barbieri at the peak of his feline prowess and with an amazing ensemble that was essentially a pick-up gig for most of them. But not just any pick-up band, no siree! Bernand “Pretty” Purdie on skins along with Chuck Rainey on bass (playing the festival with Aretha Franklin and King Curtis) aren’t exactly some music-school hacks you pick up at the bus station on the way to the show. Lonnie Liston Smith and the one and only Nana Vasconcelos were the only regular band members on stage with Gato, and both give it everything they’ve got. In spite of being improvised by the seat-of-their-pants, the only time I notice the Purdie/Rainey rhythm section lag, if not quite falter, is in the beginning section of Brasil where Rainey comes in a measure behind Pretty Purdie’s triumphant drum entrance about three minutes in. Other than that, they sound like they had all been playing together for years. The ambient place-making of “Mi Buenos Aires Querido” is as evocative a piece as Gato ever played. But the highlight for me is “El Ariero”, a song by the very influential Argentinian composer and writer Atahualp Yupanqui. Gato had also recorded in the studio and released it on the album “Fenix” earlier in the year, where I think it has a little more *power* or some similar descriptor, particularly the vocal, but this version has a nice spontaneous intensity to it. The last track, written by frequent collaborator Oliver Nelson, is a bonus cut to this CD, having appeared on a Flying Dutchman compilation of the same name (El Gato) where it was the sole original, unreleased track. This reissue does us the favor of placing it here, and saving us from looking at the awful front cover design of Barbieri turning into a cat, werewolf-style. The lineup is a considerably augmented ensemble which now includes Ron Carter on bass and Airto Moreira on percussion in place of Nana. A beautiful tune, particularly the double flute arrangements.

Eumir Deodato / Neco – Samba Nova Concepção (1964)

Eumir Deodato
Samba Nova Concepção
Released 1964 on Equipe label (EQ-803)
Reissue 2007 on Atração Fonográfico (ATR41035)

The inner panel that contains some info specifically about this album is barely legible in the included scan, due to the way the digipak is constructed. I have therefore taken the liberty of reproducing it here, and translating it from Portuguese to English:

————————

///// An album originally released on vinyl by the Equipe label in 1964, “Samba Nova Concepção” counts among its participants some of the musicians that would be join together for the band “Os Catedráticos do Samba,” that accompanied Eumir Deodato on his subsequent albums like “Impulso” and “Ataque”. Amidst those who formed the group were drummer Wilson das Neves, saxophonist Alberto Gonçalves, bassist Luiz Marinho, and Daudeth de Azevedo, also known as Neco, guitarist responsible for the disc’s arrangements and the direction of the musicians during the recording. Eumir Deodato played piano on all 12 cuts.* (see note at bottom)

In the repertoire of the album we have themes from the record “Coisas” by master Moacir Santos, such as ‘Coisa no.1″ and “Nanã (Coisa no.5), songs from representatives of Bossa Nova like Roberto Menescal, Ronaldo Boscoli, and the brothers Valle (Marcos and Sérgio), alongside one song by Jorge Ben Jor, “Capoeira”, from his second album “Sacundin Ben Samba” released the same year of 1964.

Just like all the other five discs of the Brazilian maestro and pianist released in the Coleção Galeria (on the Atração label) ……. “Samba Nova Concepção” shows the early musical production by one of the Brazilian artists most highly-esteemed outside Brazil, with his roots in bossa nova, in samba, and in jazz.

**Note: as pointed out below in the info lifted from a wonderful online discography of Deodato I’ve come across, this album was not originally released under his name but rather that of Neco — guitarist, arranger, and conductor for the sessions. That the Atração label omits this fact in their liner notes is… interesting.
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SAMBA NOVA CONCEPÇÃO
Neco
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: c. 1964
Clélio Ribeiro (tp); José Araújo (Zé Bodega) (ts); Jorge Ferreira Da Silva (Jorginho) (as,f); Emilio Baptista (as); Alberto Gonçalves (bs); Eumir Deodato (p); Daudeth de Azevedo (Neco) (g,arr,cond); Luiz Marinho (b); Wilson Das Neves (d); Jorge Arena (cga); Humberto Garin (guiro); Rubens Bassini (perc).

a. Samba No Congo (Jorge Ferreira da Silva) – 2:24
b. Adriana (Roberto Menescal/Luiz Fernando Freire) – 2:08
c. Estamos Aí (Durval Ferreira/Mauricio Einhorn) – 1:56
d. Carnaval Triste (Sergio Carvalho/Paulo Bruce) – 2:14
e. Nanã (Moacir Santos/Mario Telles) – 3:20
f. Straits Of McClellan (Don Elliott) – 3:13
g. Capoeira (Jorge Ben) – 2:23
h. Sonho De Maria (Marcos Valle/Paulo Sergio Valle) – 3:22
i. Samba A (Durval Ferreira/Mauricio Einhorn) – 2:53
j. Amor De Nada (Marcos Valle/Paulo Sergio Valle) – 2:22

same, except Euclides J. Conceição, Pedro Luiz de Assis (as); Adherbal Moreira (bs); Tenório Jr. (p).

k. Coisa No.1 (Moacir Santos/Clóvis Mello – 1:52
l. A Morte De Um Deus De Sal (Roberto Menescal/Ronaldo Bôscoli) – 3:08

Note: While the music on this album was originally released under Neco’s name (Equipe (Br) EQ-803), it has subsequently become credited in further issues and compilations to the music’s producer and pianist, Eumir Deodato (with kind thanks to Paulo Sá Pereira, musician and professor of MPB at Ribeirão Preto College – Sao Paulo, who alerted me to this fact).

Issues: a-l on Equipe (Br) EQ-803, Ubatuqui (Sp) UBCD-502 [CD], Ubatuqui (Sp) UBCD-102 [CD], Bomba (Jap) BOM-22083 [CD].
Samplers: a-j also on Irma (It) 508350-2 [CD] titled THE BOSSA NOVA SESSIONS VOL. 1. b also on Irma (It) 508814-2 [CD] titled A DAY IN RIMINI. h & j also on Irma (It) 507901-2 [CD] titled SUMMER SAMBA.
Producer: Eumir Deodato. Executive Producer: Ogide. (LP). Eumir Deodato & Arnaldo DeSouteiro (CD).
Engineer: Umberto Contardi
Notes: Myriam Conceição.

Note: As with all posts here over the last month or two, the ID TAGS included restored diacritical characters (ç, ã, é, and so on ) as well as songwriting credits on each individual track. You may need to configure your media player to see these while listening, but you can also simply right-click (on a Windows OS) and see songwriter credits under “properties”. Also note that if you decompress to WAV and archive (that means you, Simon..), as far as I know you completely lose these ID tags.