Saturday, February 16, 2008

David Bonner's Revolutionizing Children's Music

I noted earlier that somewhat over a year ago I got an email from David Bonner, who was writing a history of children's records based around Horace Grenell. The book has been published by Scarecrow Press. I got a copy and it is well-written. It fills in a bunch of the details about the record business that I was not really aware of.

"About the same time (1951-1952), Grenell entered into the pressing plant business. In partnership with David Foxman (affiliated with the New York-based Raleigh pressing plant) and Norman Jacobowitz (engineer at Carnegie Hall Recording), he co-owned and managed the Abbey Record Manufacturing Company. Under the Abbey umbrella, Desto Music, Inc., existed as a music production company, with another Abbey-related company, Arco Music, Inc., operating as the official producer of Desto Records. Located in East Newark, New Jersey (and later moving to nearby Kearney), the plant pressed records for an eclectic assortment of independent labels, including Audio Fidelity, Elektra, Riverside, Roulette, and Westminster. Abbey, along with the RCA Victor Custom Record Division, pressed records also for CRG."
Bonner, 2007, Page 129

My memory of Abbey was that it existed in Jersey City well before Grenell got involved. Norm had two partners, Jascha Zayde, a staff pianist with WQXR (who died in 1999), and Joe Brodie, a dentist who did my dental work. I would take the bus into Manhattan to his office on Broadway above 180th. Norm chose the name Abbey because it came early in the alphabet. Someone looking for pressing services would call him first.

Norm always had playful business names. Sound Plastics was a triple pun -- a sound business on Long Island Sound that made plastic for the sound recording industry.

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