I had a fun-filled evening listening to some lovely jazz vinyl last night. I had planned to stay up in the country to get some writing done – in the real world I get paid to write about information technology and business. For those of you who didn’t know that, now you do. I’ve had an inordinate amount of assignments lately, which is why I’ve been blogging less often than usual on Jazz Collector. When you’re writing 1,500 to 2,000 words every single day about some esoteric business or technology issue, sometimes the last thing you want to do is sit at the computer and compose something new. At least, that’s how it is for me. Anyway, I was expecting to experience the first tastes of spring up here in The Berkshires, but instead we’ve had a couple of days of snow and quite frosty temperatures. There must be 5-6 inches of snow on the ground. No spring at all. Anyway, I am up here alone together with my dog Marty, which means I can play whatever music I want at whatever volume I want. Marty is very considerate that way. I have a very nice system with a Linn Sondek turntable, Macintosh integrated amp and Wilson Sophia speakers. I also have about 6,000 records to choose from and, for last night, there was the availability of fresh stimulants for the mind, which never hurts either. Read more
So, back in the Bronx, I had a pile of about 50 records. Of the records in that pile there were probably about 10 that I really wanted. But I sensed that the woman wanted to get rid of records and taking more seemed like the right approach. So I made an offer that I thought was fair, considering the condition of the records and the reality that many of the records in the pile were relatively worthless. The offer came out of my mouth and the words were still just hanging in the air when I could see the woman physically recoil as if she had just swallowed a platter full of insects. She repeated the number I had just said and gasped: “The Jackie McLean record alone is worth more than that!” Which, to be fair, would have been true if the Jackie McLean record was in excellent condition. But it wasn’t. Then she started going through a list that she had compiled with values for some of the key records. But there was clearly a disconnect. All of the values she had compiled were for records in M- condition. The records in the pile were not in M- condition. None of them.
OK, I have another story. This one starts, as usual, with an e-mail. The first e-mail came back in April 2015. I replied, but nothing ever came of it. Then, just a few weeks ago, there was another e-mail from the same person, totally of the blue. This was the text, verbatim:
“Top jazz artist’s
Cotrane , gerald wilson ,st you’d, ray brown, jimmy smith, felonious monk, Eddie Harris , carmen macrae, jazz laboratorylaboratory, gene Simmons, Dexter gordon , stan gets ext.
Give me good price I’ll sell.
‘Miles Davis,chico hamilton about 80 or more.”
I wrote back, asking for more detail and perhaps some pictures. The first photo came back and it didn’t show much at all. No valuable Coltrane, Stan Gets, or Felonious Monk in the picture. Instead there were a lot of records by Gloria Lynne. I wrote back asking for more details and pictures of the Coltrane or Dexter Gordon or Miles Davis. A few more pictures came back. This was the first one:
Obviously, my correspondent had done a little homework between the first few emails and this one. So, of course it is Jackie McLean, The New Tradition on Ad Lib, and yes my interest was piqued. Who would have thought, one of the rarest of the rare jazz LPs among a collection previously highlighted by titles such as Gloria Lynne Intimate Moments and Miss Lorraine Ellison Heart And Soul?
I actually started the year with a nice record score. In fact, I filled in one of the most gaping holes in my collection. After 45 years of collecting jazz records, I finally have a black label copy of Giant Steps on my shelf. And it is in beautiful M- condition for the vinyl, and at least VG++ for the cover. I just listened to it, sitting on my sofa with a big Cheshire Cat grin on my mug. I’m sure it’s totally psychological, but it has never ever sounded better, even after hundreds of prior hearings. It’s interesting because almost to the day exactly a year ago a wrote a post expressing my desire to get a black label Giant Steps for my birthday. I even dropped a couple of hints to The Lovely Mrs. JC. And here we are a year later – Happy Birthday to me (actually it’s still a few weeks away). So, I’m sure you’re all interested in how this record came to be in my possession. I will tell you the bare bones of the story, since I’m hoping it’s not actually over yet and there are potentially more records to come. The gist is that it involves a contact in South America, a carry-on
“Honey, how much money do we have in our bank account? I want to buy some jazz records.” That was what I asked my wife, the darling Mrs. JC-A, two weeks ago.
There was a rumor circulating around town that there was a pretty nice collection of records up for sale by a private seller. Seems he had spoken to all the record stores in the area. A few of them had been out to his house to inspect the collection, but no one was willing to either commit to what he was looking to get for the records or had turned him off. Imagine that. A record store employee with an attitude. A friend of a friend who worked at a local record store finally squeezed a phone number for the seller out of his boss at the store, when they also decided to pass. Over a thousand records in the collection, but no way for a record store to quickly get in and out of the transaction was the explanation. Atlanta is a mediocre jazz record town, with rock and southern blues (think the Allman Brothers) being the local taste. People like you and me are certainly the exception.
Oh my goodness, I woke up this morning and, like many of you perhaps, I was surprised to see a whole new Jazz Collector site. Well, probably not as surprised as most of you, because I knew this was in the works, but I wasn’t expecting it to happen quite so soon and before I even had a chance to discuss it on the site. Anyway, here’s what happened. Tom Stier, the guy who handles all of my Web stuff (since I’m a techno-phobe at heart), informed me a few months ago that the site was going to suffer in Google rankings unless we updated the theme and made it more mobile-friendly. I put off making the move for awhile, just because I didn’t want to be bothered and, since this has never been a money-making proposition, slipping in Google rankings didn’t really have an impact on me. At the same time, we had been talking about adding a real Forum to the site, rather than the cobbled-together effort I had made in the past. Finally, for some reason last week,
So I got up at 6:30 last Thursday morning and decided, on somewhat of a whim, to reorganize my records. By 6:45 I was hauling piles of records between one room and another, climbing ladders, aching my aging muscles, wrenching my aging back. For me, it was the usual: I go through this type of exercise at least once a year, maybe even more frequently. And often, there is no rhyme or reason to what I’m doing, just a desire to physically handle my records and pore through them to once again remind me of what I have and where it is located. Before I get into the details of what I did and why I did it, I am curious to ask: Is this just me, or is it a common affliction of the vinyl collector? Do any of you out there go through an organizing/reorganizing jag on a regular basis?
Anyway, so here’s my latest story.
My son, Michael Perlman, has written and directed a new play called “At the Table,” which is being produced at the HERE Arts Center in New York. I’m stating that up front because when people do searches for the play on the Internet I want them to find this article. But, before I get to “At the Table” by Michael Perlman, let me get to the point as it relates to my friends and readers here at Jazz Collector.
My very first paying job as a journalist was while I was still in college. I was the jazz writer and critic for The Syracuse New Times in Syracuse, New York. It was 1973. I was 20 years old. The job was a blast. I got to interview Charles Mingus, Chick Corea and Larry Coryell when they came through town. I got to write a fun essay on Charlie Parker. I wrote an article on 25 records to get started on jazz. And, whenever the record labels would send over new jazz records, they would come to me. For a vinyl addict, what could be better?
At some point I was sitting in my dorm room and I was doing a review of a new Dexter Gordon album. It was Ca’Purange (Prestige 10051 for those of us who like to keep track of such things). I didn’t think the album was all that great, particularly in comparison to Dexter’s previous Prestige albums, most notably The Panther!, which was one of my favorites. I’m at my typewriter and writing about Dexter being a disappointment on this record, and commenting negatively on the other musicians, who happened to be Thad Jones, Hank Jones, Stanley Clarke and Louis Hayes.
And I look down at the paper, and the realization hits me: Who the hell am I to be criticizing Dexter Gordon or any of these amazing artists?
So, yesterday I had either an extraordinary epiphany or an utter psychotic episode, depending upon your point of view. Let me set the stage by going back about 30 years to the time when I borrowed $10,000 from family to acquire my first record collection, 1,000 records that seemed like a poor investment at the time, paying $10 apiece. At the time I probably had about 1,000 records of my own and I wound up with many duplicates. There was no e-Bay at the time, of course, and the best way for a collector like myself to get rid of duplicates was to work the record shows that took place on the weekends. Between Long Island and Manhattan, at the time, there was probably a show every month or so, but I would be selective and do one or two a year. Sometimes I’d take my daughter and she would hang out and, when she got older, sometimes follow in her father’s footsteps and go out and seek some scores of her own. In between these record shows the duplicate records would sit in boxes somewhere in my house. Over the
Just to close the loop on yesterday’s post. Yes, indeed, I went back to the town dump to see if there were any more treasures to be found and to see if there was anything I had inadvertently left behind. There was nothing new there, but I did wind up taking a few more CDs, not just for myself but for a few friends as well. I’m in a band up here with three other musicians and we had practice so I brought some CDs and told them they could take whatever they wanted. Some of the CDs, it turned out, were just the cases, but most of them had CDs, including all of the boxed sets. So, now that I’m settled in and had a chance to go through my score, here is the final tally: