About Chesky

Our Philosophy

Our philosophy is simple: to create the illusion of live musicians in a real three-dimensional space. Chesky Records tries to achieve the impression of reality with the most advanced technology available, careful microphone placement, and, most of all, a recording team that pays attention to every minute detail-making your listening experience tangible, pleasureable, exciting, and realistic. Our commitment to detail and our dedication to the music we produce has earned the company world-wide acclaim for the artistic and technical excellence of its releases. But Chesky Records didn't become a Grammy Award-winning independent audiophile label overnight: it's been nearly thirty years of hard work coupled with an abiding passion for great music that has gotten us this far, and it is this very same combination that will carry Chesky into the future.

Our History

It all started in 1978 when a young composer/musician named David Chesky, who was beginning a career on Columbia Records, found himself frustrated with the lack of artistic control afforded by his position. He asked his business partner and younger brother Norman if he thought they should start their own record company. But what did these two young men who had made their way from Miami to New York at a tender age know about running a business? Frankly, not much. But what the brothers may have lacked in corporate acumen they made up for with a burning passion to create great music and great sounds, and the desire to to create new and exciting ways to capture and reproduce music.

And so, Chesky Records was born. Norman remembers: "We wanted to please both musical connoisseurs and the high-end audiophiles by signing some of the best musicians in the world, and then capturing their live performances with the latest and best technology." Adds David, "I would walk into a recording studio and see fifty microphones set up. When I realized that people don't hear music that way, and that musicians play differently when they are recorded like that, I decided that if we ever started a company, it was going to have a different and unique recording philosophy." By 1986, David was traveling to universities and talking to scientists and engineers about the parameters of recording capabilities. This was also the year that he had the honor of being introduced to the great classical pianist Earl Wild, who not only gave the younger musician some pointers on composition and performance, but also the opportunity to listen to the master tapes of one of his famous Rachmaninoff recordings from the Reader's Digest series. David was so impressed by what he heard that he and Norman struck a deal with Wild and Reader's to re-issue the work on audiophile-quality vinyl. The Cheskys had saved every nickel to build a custom mixer and tube tape recorder that would bring the original glory out of older recordings. The bid was successful, and the ensuing release was met with such widespread critical success that we were able to reissue the other Reader's recordings and then do the same with a number of orchestral works on RCA.

The next step would prove to be even more difficult than the first. We had to show that they were capable of not only producing wonderful reissues, but first-rate original recordings as well. Renting out the legendary RCA Studio A, we set up their custom-built equipment and recorded jazz violinist Johnny Frigo, followed in short succession by long-admired jazzmen Clark Terry and Phil Woods. As these initial efforts garnered raves from jazz fans and audiophiles alike, we managed to build a formidable roster of Latin American talent: Luiz Bonfa, Grammy-winning clarinet and alto saxophonist Paquito D'Rivera, and vocalist Ana Caram. The Chesky catalog has grown steadily ever since, and includes jazz legends Peggy Lee, Herbie Mann, Joe Henderson and McCoy Tyner, adult contemporary artists Livingston Taylor, Kenny Rankin, Rebecca Pidgeon, Sara K., John Pizzarelli, and Christy Baron, classical keyboard masters Earl Wild and Igor Kipnis, and world music innovators Orquesta Nova, celebrated guitarist Badi Assad, Carlos Heredia, and I Ching.

Along with the excitement over showcasing famous musicians and establishing newer ones came significant technical advances in the recording process. Chesky Records was the first company to use 128x Oversampling to achieve previously unheard levels of fidelity, while utilizing the finest analog-to-digital converters to attain what came to be known as High Resolution Recordings. As well as the first independent American record label to record using the Digital Versatile Disc (DVD) technology. The recently introduced first recordings made with 96kHz/24-bit components had astonished even the hardest-to-please audiophiles. At the same time that Chesky had been pushing the very boundaries of recorded music, we also reached our greatest artistic triumph. Paquito D'Rivera's third Chesky release, Portraits of Cuba, a beautiful collection of jazz interpretations of Cuban folksongs, won the 1997 Grammy for Best Latin Jazz Performance, beating out a slew of major-label competitors. Chesky Records has its collective eye on the horizon.

 

Today Chesky continues to strive to broaden our audience while staying fast to our commitment to use the finest technology available to deliver beautiful music and develop the listening pleasures of tomorrow today. Our Binaural+ Series recordings sound great on headphones and speakers, and capture the sound of music as you would if you were sitting in front of the band. Recorded in high-resolution 192-kHz/24-bit sound with a special Binaural head (a “dummy” human head with specially calibrated microphones where the ears would be). Now headphone users can also hear the same three-dimensional sound and imaging as audiophiles have for the past 25 years with Chesky Recordings capturing even more spatial realism for the home audiophile market, bringing you one step closer to the actual event. 

 

Now, with our sister company HDTracks.com, we are giving users the ability to purchase music as high-resolution audiophile quality downloads. HDTracks not only has the entire Chesky records catalog but a wide variety of all the music you love from Led Zepplin to Beethoven and eveything in-between. Think I-tunes, only HIGH-RES!

 

 

Meet Sal Capozucca

Meet Sal Capozucca

By TESSA SOUTER AND ANDREA WOLPER
Published: June 27, 2016 in All About Jazz 
"I saw Billie Holiday on 52nd Street. I was shaking. I was standing because the place was jammed and she almost brushed into me. She had a gardenia in her hair. I couldn't believe I was there."

 

How often do you go out to hear live music?
I go almost every other night when I am in New York. I saw 118 shows in New York last summer. It's what I live for. I used to be into fitness but when I was 90 I broke a rib and my doctor told me to cool it. I've been going to hear live music for nearly 80 years. I'm 94 years old.

What is it about live music that makes it so special for you?
It's the ambience. The people enjoying it. The expression of the person taking the solo. The sweat. It's like doing it yourself.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I'm the type that gets tired of doing one thing. I've done numerous things. I worked with Chesky Records on their trade shows for 20 years. I also worked with the American Ballet Theater when Mikhail Baryshnikov was there. And I played drums in a band in Brooklyn three or four nights a week for about seven or eight years.

What is your earliest memory of music?
My father playing opera records at home and I liked it.

How old were you when you got your first record, and what was it?
I was 16. It was Artie Shaw's Begin the Beguine, which came out in 1938. I loved that record and listened to it over and over again—just to hear the rim shots from Buddy Rich. I loved the sound of it. My parents loved it too—my mother, especially.

Can you identify one album or experience that was your doorway to jazz?
It was the live performances that really hooked me. My first concert was in 1937, when I saw Benny Goodman with Gene Krupa at the Paramount Theater, and it just got me. I was hooked. In those days, you'd go to a movie, and a big band would come on afterwards. As a matter of fact, that's where I saw Chick Webb and Ella Fitzgerald.

What is the most trouble you've gone to to get to a performance?
I've never had any trouble. I have seen so much. I liked the big bands when I first started listening. There were so many good groups then! My favorite was the Count Basie Big Band. Also Stan Kenton and Woody Herman with Stan Getz. Small bands weren't so popular. Me and my friend used to take the subway up to the Savoy in Harlem to see the Savoy Sultans. Not too many white people around back then. I had a great life. And I ain't finished.

What is it about your favorite clubs that makes them your favorites?
My favorite club depends on whoever is playing there that night. I prefer that it's just music and no food. I love the Village Vanguard. I like Smalls because a lot of young new artists play there and I want to see jazz continuing on. And I go to the Blue Note and Dizzy's a lot. Those are the three where I have the green lights. Oh, and Mezzrow. And I have a really great time on the jazz cruises because I've gotten to know all the musicians. A lot of people enjoy the jazz and don't tell the musicians afterwards. But I always tell them, and then I get to know them.

Is there one concert that got away that you still regret having missed?
No. If I'd wanted to see it, I would have been there.

Is there a club that's no longer here that you miss the most?
The original Birdland. That was my home. It had big bands, small groups, I saw everyone, Dizzy, Stan Kenton, Ella, Bird .... and I knew Pee Wee, the MC. There'd be a line around the corner and he'd let me right in. There were a lot of other jazz clubs on 52nd Street back then. That's also where I saw Billie Holiday. That was a treat. I was shaking. I was standing because the place was jammed and she almost brushed into me. She had a gardenia in her hair. I couldn't believe I was there. I only saw her once and that once was enough.

What are the elements of an amazing concert?
Who is playing and the way the audience reacts. I like it when the leader announces the name of the songs and talks. Some leaders don't say a word until the end. I don't like that.

If you could go back in time and hear one of the jazz legends perform live, who would it be?
Bird. I saw him many times. I saw him with Miles, I saw him with Dizzy. He's the one that gave me goosies. In those days you took it for granted. You don't think they're going to leave us. And when it happens it's very sad.

How do you discover new artists nowadays?
By seeing them. I still get around, and I go to as many shows as I can.

Vinyl, CDs, or MP3s?
I prefer vinyl and I have so many vinyl records in New York. But in Florida I listen to CDs or to MP3s on my iPad.

What do you like about hearing live music as opposed to recordings?
It's nice when you see the artist and their expression. It is completely different. If the artist is not around anymore, that's fair enough to listen to the recording. Otherwise, I prefer to see them in person.


With Louis Armstrong, Coleman Hawkins, Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins & Wayne Shorter