David Tegnell sent his Open Letter regarding the music in the Live Trane box set to Fantasy for their information before posting it. Fantasy's Terri Hinte sent the following response in an email to David. We've printed it here in its entirety, without comments. Our comments and conclusions can be read on the And We Respond To Fantasy page.
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below you will find my response to your email of 11/5. If you still intend to disseminate your letter today as described in that email, I hope you will be fair enough to include my response in its entirety, rather than in selected pieces. Thank you in advance.
TO: David Tegnell
FROM: Terri Hinte
DATE: November 8, 2001
I have received your email about purported "discographical errors" in our recent John Coltrane "Live Trane" boxed set on Pablo, and I welcome this opportunity to respond.
We have received fewer than a dozen letters such as yours since the box was released, though I gather that the internet is ablaze with discussion about these alleged errors. The letters all pretty much cover the same territory, pointing out how our information apparently conflicts with the published Coltrane discographies. Some of these letters are highly indignant, livid, full of aspersions and accusations. What I find most curious is that not one letter--NOT ONE--mentions the music. I get the distinct impression that faultfinding, not music, is foremost in the writers' minds.
Be that as it may, here are some facts about the music--and the preparations that went into this package--that you should be aware of:
*the release was cleared with Impulse, to whom John Coltrane was under contract at the time of the concert recordings
*a royalty agreement was negotiated with the Coltrane estate, and all of the musicians (or their estates) were paid for the unreleased material included in the box
*the package was approved for release by Alice Coltrane, who controls her late husband's estate
*source material consisted of tapes made by producer/impresario Norman Granz during John Coltrane's 1961-63 European concert tours (these tapes conveyed to Fantasy after the latter's acquisition of Pablo Records in 1987)
*information on concert dates and venues was clarified, corrected, and updated primarily from these tape boxes, but also from the Fujioka/Porter/Hamada discography and from European friends of producer Eric Miller.
Although I certainly don't wish to impugn the valuable research conducted by the many Coltrane discographers and scholars past and present, I am disturbed by the incongruity--indeed, the absurdity--of relying on bootleg recordings as undisputed historical documents. By definition, bootlegs are flat-out ripoffs of musicians. The pirate who makes such a recording, then illegally manufactures and distributes it--without any regard for sound quality, artistic presentation, or needless to say, ACCURACY--is depriving the musician of compensation due him. The "fan" who buys these illegal recordings is ALSO ripping off the musician while enriching the crook who put out the bootleg.
Have you ever written to a bootlegger to complain about the poor quality of the music you bought (illegally)? Or to question the correctness of any information printed on the sleeve? Come to think of it, there's usually not much on the sleeve at all, because bootleg packaging is schlocky and marginally informative.
In your e-mail, you take issue with our claim "that half the music [in the box] is new. In fact, only five tracks have not before been released commercially (and one of these has been privately circulated)." But you erroneously make no distinction between legal and illegal recordings. "Historic Performances, Oppex, BYG, Beppo, and other labels" that you say have released this material have done so without compensating the musicians. Collectors and others who have bought bootlegs of any of this material over the years or who've acquired "privately circulated" (great euphemism!) copies are now in a position to do the right thing and acquire a legal copy of the (properly remastered) music, thereby ensuring that the artist's estate will be compensated for the music that these collectors have (presumably) been enjoying-- or enduring--on bad pressings. Or is the music, finally, irrelevant?
One last point, David. At the close of your e-mail, you call into question our claim that this box represents the entirety of the Coltrane European material in our vaults. "All but two of the concerts presented are fragments," you write. ". . . Where are the rest? We can only conclude that these and other recordings have been lost or discarded, perhaps deemed unworthy of retention." And I can only repeat our claim that this box represents the entirety of the Coltrane European material in our vaults.
Incidentally, producer Eric Miller contacted Alice Coltrane this week for her views on this entire matter. She supports the music and the legitimacy of the Pablo boxed set, and expressed her concern--shared by all musicians--about the problem of bootleg recordings. (She has received a copy of this letter.)
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