Feb 5, 2011 Blue Note
Thanks to everyone for the kind birthday wishes. For all of you hoping to experience the pursuit of a rare jazz record vicariously through my adventure yesterday . . . I have to disappoint, unfortunately. After a lovely lunch with with the young JCs — who treated, by the way — the lovely Mrs. JC and I headed to the Jazz Record Center with great hope and enthusiasm. We got there, I said a quick hello to Fred and then started perusing the bins. In the background I could hear Fred and Mrs. JC engaged in lively conversation. I worried briefly that she might be making a deal to sell my entire collection, but it was only a fleeting concern. I started with the new arrivals and was a bit disappointed when there was nothing there of interest to me. There was a nice original Bud Powell on Norgran, but I already own a copy. An Art Farmer on New Jazz, but it was a reissue. There were a couple of other decent records, but nothing that would really add to my collection. I then went around the store, bin after bin, in search of that one record that would commemorate the day. I went through the Mobleys, Morgans, McLeans . . . and Getz . . . Dexter . . . Blakey . . . Bird . . . Fats . . . maybe a nice 10-incher on Savoy, or even a Bird 78 on Dial? Alas, I didn’t find anything. But I had one last hope.
In my mind, I figured that somewhere in the back, not on the shelves, not open for public viewing, Fred had a reserve of old Blue Notes and Prestiges that he only pulled out for special occasions and special customers. Admit it — don’t you all think that way when you go to the Jazz Record Center: That this is the repository of great jazz records and, like a museum, all the great works pass through at some point? So, after going through all the bins I went back to Fred, who was still engaged in conversation with the lovely Mrs. JC, and asked if there was anything in the back rooms, or under the counter, or somewhere that he was holding back on. After all, this was a special occasion, right? He smiled kind of wanly and said there might be something, what did I have in mind? I figured I’d go for the gold, so I mentioned a couple of nice Blue Notes that I’ve always wanted but, for whatever reason, don’t have as original pressings: Freddie Redd, Shades of Redd and Paul Chambers, Bass on Top. Fred kind of chuckled at the mention of those records and the idea that he would just have them lying around somewhere in the store. “Those are pretty rare records,” he said, with a hint of incredulity, then a bit wistfully: “I wish I had them.”
So, in the end, I wound up purchasing the Blue Note book, a Mosaic boxed set and an EMI-Capitol Music edition of Jutta Hipp With Zoot Sims, Blue Note 1530. This, I hope, is an upgrade of the United Artists pressing in my collection. It was not the score I was seeking, but it was fun going through the bins at the Jazz Record Center and seeing what was there and the pricing and the condition. It’s a great gauge of the market and the thing you learn, as you see on eBay, is that while the market for the high-end collectibles continues to go up, demand for what I would call mid-market collectibles is shrinking, meaning that prices are down. And, for records that are not collectible, you wonder if there is any demand at all. As we were heading out, the lovely Mrs. JC said she was disappointed I didn’t get my score, but quite pleased with our excursion because she had a lovely conversation with Fred, who she said was warm and charming and quite engaging. I looked at her askance: “You didn’t, perchance, offer to sell him my collection, did you?” I asked. She smiled and then laughed out loud. But, now that I think about it, she never did answer the question.