The Tony Schwartz Music Exchange Tape

In the mid-to-late 1970s, I lived in group houses with a broad assortment of interesting people. One of them was Seth Deitch, who had as part of his vast array of stuff an assortment of reel-to-reel tapes inherited from his father, the brilliant animator Gene Deitch.

Eventually we acquired a reel-to-reel machine and began the process of dubbing all these tapes onto cassette. They were in poor condition, so this amounted to a rescue operation.

Some of the material was old jazz, some of it was old radio commercials; one reel contained a set of 1949 performances by John Lee Hooker that many years later got released as “Jack Of Diamonds.”

And one reel held this extraordinary document:

Tony Schwartz, master of electronic media, created more than 20,000 radio and television spots for products, political candidates and non-profit public interest groups. Featured on programs by Bill Moyers, Phil Donahue and Sixty Minutes, among others, Schwartz has been described as a “media guru,” a “media genius” and a “media muscleman.” The tobacco industry even voluntarily stopped their advertising on radio and television after Schwartz’s produced the first anti-smoking ad to ever appear (children dressing in their parents’ clothing, in front of a mirror). The American Cancer Society credits this ad, and others that followed, with the tobacco industry’s decision to go off the air, rather than compete with Schwartz’s ad campaign.

Born in midtown Manhattan in 1923, a graduate of Peekskill High School (1941) and Pratt Institute (1944), Tony Schwartz had a unique philosophy of work: He only worked on projects that interested him, for whatever they could afford to pay.


For many years he was a Visiting Electronic professor at Harvard University’s School of Public Health, teaching physicians how to use media to deal with public health problems. He also taught at New York University and Columbia and Emerson colleges. Because Schwartz was unable to travel distances, he delivered all out of town talks remotely. Schwartz was a frequent lecturer at universities and conferences, and gave presentations on six of the seven continents (not Antarctica). He was awarded honorary doctorates from John Jay, Emerson and Stonehill Colleges.


“Documenting life in sound and pictures” is something Tony Schwartz begin in 1945, when he bought his first Webcor wire recorder and began to record the people and sounds around him. From this hobby developed one of the world’s largest and most diverse collections of voices, both prominent and unknown, street sounds and music, a collection that resulted in nineteen phonograph albums for Folkways and Columbia Records.


During the 1950s, Tony Schwartz sent this recording out into the world, presumably under an early version of a Creative Commons license.

While I was already getting interested in what was then called “Ethnic Music,” this recording was something completely different — dozens of different songs from all over the planet, each introduced by the same voice. I must have listened to the Tony Schwartz Exchange Tape a couple of hundred times over the next few years, but time marched on and the dubbed version of the Tony Tape came to rest in my collection alongside hundreds of other cassettes. In the early 2000s I duplicated it onto a CD, where it continued to lie dormant.

I bumped into Tony Schwartz’ name a few times on various Folkways lps, but never learned much about the man until I started listening to the Kitchen Sisters’ wonderful “Lost And Found Sound” series — and then I had a delightful shock of recognition. Give this audio portrait a listen.

Anyhow, I’ve been transferring all my sound files to my computer, and this one finally had its turn…and I says to myself, says I, “Well, this certainly deserves to be out in the world.”

Here you go, world.

V. R. Athavale

V.R. Athavale – born December 20, 1918. A khyaliya of Agra gharana, he learned with Pt. V.N. Patwardhan and Ustad Vilayat Hussein Khan, and was known as a teacher and author (a biography of Pt. Vishnu Digambar Paluskar). These recordings are from an All India Radio broadcast.

Raga Dhanashri

Raga Lalit Pancham

Raga Bhupali Todi

Raga Bahaduri Todi

Raga Lachari Todi

Raga Hussaini Todi

Raga Samant Sarang

78 rpm Records of Indian Music: Bai Sundra Bai

Bai Sundra Bai was one of the most heavily recorded artists from the thumri culture of the early 20th century along with Gauhar Jan, Janki Bai and others. Originally from Pune, her repertoire included Marathi bhavgeets along with thumris, ghazals and occasional khyal performances. Her recording career extended into the late 1940s, with some work for films.

I enjoy these two thumri performances, both on fairly standard Krishna texts. Both show her flexible voice and excellent taan technique; the Tilak Kamod in particular is very impressive.

Tilak Kamod: “Avata hai giridhari”

Jhinjhoti: “Kanha charavata gaayi”

78 rpm Records of Indian Music: G.N. Joshi

G.N. Joshi was both a singer and the main A&R man for HMV India; “Down Melody Lane,” his reminiscences of a life in music, is an excellent read.

Here are two of the Marathi geets he recorded at the beginning of his career.

His voice production is easy and clear, and he handles the melismatic passages with aplomb.

The next item is based on the popular afternoon raga Patdeep, and includes some lovely improvisation; it is a khyal performance in all but name. Joshi’s melodic imagination is captivating; the piece ends with some excellent taankari.

78 rpm Records of Indian Music: The Dacca Orchestral Party

This enchanting ensemble is a mix of Indian and Western instruments with occasional vocals. Googling the name “Dacca Orchestral Party” yields nothing. I wonder: would you have heard this group playing in the lobby of a Grand Hotel in the 1920s?

Wonderful. Surely one of the earliest pieces of East-West Fusion in existence.

Raga Kafi:

The little vocal interlude is priceless.


Raga Bhairavi:

The string/percussion section at 2:38 is timbrally fascinating. I could never have imagined such a combination; it almost recalls some of Harry Partch’s orchestrations.

Jack Jones

Jack Jones. Oddly enough, it’s his real name, or pretty close. I haven’t really paid too much attention to his singing until fairly recently; it’s been a delightful discovery. Enjoy.

“Call Me Irresponsible”

A two-time Grammy winner in the early ’60s, Jack Jones has made a fine living since, blending vocal standards from traditional pop with swinging renditions of contemporary pop and rock hits. Born in Los Angeles in 1938, Jones was the son of the romantic lead actor and recording artist Allan Jones (who had a hit with “The Donkey Serenade”) and actress Irene Hervey. He began studying the vocal arts in high school, and after graduation joined his father’s successful act on the nightclub circuit. Jack left less than a year later, determined to make it on his own, and began playing small clubs around the country.


Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered

(Between 1961 and 1967), Jones recorded almost twenty albums…(snip). Young, handsome, and well-groomed, Jack Jones was an anomaly in the sixties, eschewing rock and roll trends and opting for the big band sound, lush romantic ballads and the Great American Songbook, although sometimes he recorded something more pop, country or bossa nova oriented. One of his biggest hits, for example, was “The Race Is On”, by country music legend George Jones (who is not related to Jack). Besides the good choice of material, Jones worked with top arrangers like Billy May, Nelson Riddle, Marty Paich, Shorty Rogers, Jack Elliott, Ralph Carmichael, Bob Florence, Don Costa and Pete King.


With Judy Garland. They’re doing a medley of every damn song they could think of, followed by the “Donkey Serenade.”

“Gypsies, Jugglers and Clowns,” from 1968.

As is often the case with singers in this genre, he moves back and forth between trite nonsense and genuinely terrific material from the great American songbook.

A review from 2010, by the Wall Street Journal’s Will Friedwald (another example of why the WSJ should stick to cultural reporting and leave the financial sector news to Rolling Stone):

About halfway through his show, while performing David Gates’s “If,”Jack Jones sings: “If a man could be two places at one time, I’d be with you.” And indeed, Mr. Jones is doing two apparently contradictory things at once: He’s got to be the most conversational jazz-pop singer in the pantheon, delivering every word of every line in a direct, one-on-one dialogue with everybody in the Oak Room. At the same time, he’s the most thoroughly musical and constantly creative, having learned the lessons of Billie Holiday and Frank Sinatra? that playing with the tune can be a way of personalizing it, making the lyrics resonate all the more meaningfully. Beyond that, Mr. Jones is the most well-endowed vocally and theatrically; nearly every ending is a big one, allowing him to show off his Olympian chops. Somehow, he achieves the near-impossible feat of being breathlessly intimate even while belting at the top of his lungs.
To miss Mr. Jones would be to miss one of the great veteran interpreters of the standard songbook (in a class with Tony Bennett and Freddy Cole). Miraculously, he keeps his balance through the entire show, managing to be up close and personal yet at the same time hitting stratospheric high notes that only dogs can hear and holding them until the cows come home. The dichotomy was represented by his two opening theme songs, the warm, intimate “Isn’t That What Friends Are For?” and the bombastic, anthemic “I Am a Singer.” It’s not like he’s one thing and then the other; he’s constantly both at the same time, particularly on emblematic 1960s hits like “People” and “God Only Knows,” which he brings to life more vividly than anyone I’ve ever heard.


His phrasing draws from Sinatra, but there is nobody in this genre of whom that cannot be said. His technique is extraordinary; while I’m not always sympathetic to his intonation he usually manages to convince me that he’s doing it deliberately.

Stephen Holden, in The New York Times; 2008:

In 1962, when he had his first hit, “Lollipops and Roses,” Mr. Jones was the handsome, fresh-faced new kid on the block in an already established tradition of honey-dripping lounge lizards who swing. Today he is the same animal, but his weathered voice is filled with seams and crevices. It is the voice of a gentleman rancher astride a horse, surveying his property in a television western. It is said that as we age, we become more and more ourselves. And the mature Jack Jones has refined a style that could never be called cookie-cutter. His world-weary cragginess coincides with an impulse to take ballads at extremely slow tempos and to execute them with the hesitations, drawn-out notes and sudden leaps that are a trademark of the jazz singer Mark Murphy. Because the lower end of Mr. Jones’s voice has deepened, his sudden flights into a quasi-falsetto are more dramatic than ever. At times they suggest the spontaneous eruptions of a polished stylist impatiently throwing caution to the wind.


Shadow of Your Smile / What Now, My Love?

Someone To Watch Over Me / Just One Of Those Things
While the MC is annoying, his performances are delightful; great variations on the Cole Porter.

With Aretha Franklin and B.B. King, doing “Sweet Sixteen.” Damn.

This gig recording is very recent. He is using more rasp, and doing so quite creatively. I don’t always agree with his intonation in the first few verses, but by the time he gets going, he’s beautifully focused. And what a lovely lower register.

“Our Love Is Here To Stay.” He is joined onstage at the end by his ex-wife and their daughter.