March 1, 2023

A live broadcast of a jazz legend is brought to life with AI


50 years later, Oscar Peterson’s “Live in Zurich” performance makes its way to digital, vinyl, and CD.

For fifty years, a recording of the Oscar Peterson Trio’s 1971 show at the historic Tonhalle Zürich sat in archives. Originally taped and aired for a single broadcast on Radio Zurich, the performance’s grandeur could only be heard by the lucky few who caught the concert live or its reprise on the radio.

Poster from Oscar Peterson's original performance in 1971.

That was until Mack Avenue, an independent jazz record label, partnered with Oscar’s widow, Kelly Peterson, to make this performance available as a live album. As audio engineers know, live recordings often have fair amounts of bleed and crowd noise that can make mastering a challenge. Not to mention that this was taped in the early 70s, with the various quirks and qualities of older recordings from that time. But the draw of hearing the speed and crisp tone of Oscar Peterson’s piano playing made this a challenge that Mack Avenue wanted to tackle.

In mastering this album for release, it was necessary that care was taken into achieving a sound quality that honored Peterson’s work.

“Unbeknownst to me at the time, we only had a two-track stereo master of the live unreleased performance of the Oscar Peterson trio. Without a multitrack session, our engineer Blaise did the best he could, but it wasn’t as good as it could be. I discovered AudioShake through various colleagues and after running some tests on my own bands, I was impressed. There were very few artifacts in each stem we pulled. So I reached out to see if they could partner on a whole record with us.” — Will Wakefield, Senior Director of A&R at MackAvenue

Mack Avenue saw that our technology could extract high-quality stems from the live recording, separating the piano, drums, and bass played by Peterson, Louis Hayes, and Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, respectively. Once extracted, the stems were then mastered by Mack Avenue’s producer for the “Live in Zurich” project. The album marks our first full jazz album, and first live concert album, separated and mastered through AudioShake’s AI.

The magic of live performances is the individuality that a musician brings to each performance. In the case of Oscar Peterson, who often performed with a variety of accompanying musicians, the improvisations and artistry were unique to each show. In this album, you can clearly hear and appreciate each musician’s contributions to the performance, putting listeners in that very Zurich concert hall from fifty years ago.

“With AudioShake, we could use the stereo two-track and nip-and-tuck audience and band mics to bring a better, more cohesive sound to the mix. There are lots of subtleties I notice, but the main difference in quality can be heard in the opening of the record, in the mixing of the audience and band mics.” — Will Wakefield, Senior Director of A&R at MackAvenue

Few albums from this period are able to achieve this level of audio quality, let alone a live album. AudioShake’s AI turned a singular recording from the late 20th century into a master album released across digital, vinyl, and CD. “Live in Zurich” is just our first project to be released with AI. With AudioShake, labels and publishers can celebrate live albums and for the first time bring to life the concerts we thought would go undiscovered. For concerts from 100 years ago or last week, AudioShake can add denser and more crisp sounds by separating out stems and putting the performance together as artists originally played it.