Chasing Trane: A Review, An Appreciation, A Spiritual Awakening

chasing-traneBy Al Perlman
Editor and Publisher, Jazz Collector

It is the day after Thanksgiving here in the States and one of the things I am grateful for is the new John Coltrane documentary Chasing Trane, written and directed by John Scheinfeld. I was fortunate to see this film on the closing night of DOC NYC, the New York documentary film festival. It was a week ago last Thursday and it has had a deep emotional impact on me that is still resonating, which I will discuss in a bit. But first let me tell you about the film.

First off, Scheinfeld is a terrific documentary filmmaker, IMHO. I am a huge fan of two of his earlier movies, The U.S. vs. John Lennon and Who is Harry Nilsson . . .? I knew virtually nothing about Nilsson when I watched that film and I’ve since recommended it to all of my friends and family, and now to all of my readers here at Jazz Collector. Perhaps because of Scheinfeld’s reputation, the Coltrane family welcomed him to do this film and gave him access to Coltrane’s music, archives and even home movies.

In Chasing Trane, Scheinfeld has created a moving and inspirational tribute to one of the great musicians and spiritual influences of our times. He uses film footage and photos of Coltrane, some never before seen, interspersed with comments from a wide range of friends, family, fans, biographers and other admirers. I was personally moved by the comments from Coltrane contemporaries and close friends, Jimmy Heath, Benny Golson and, especially, Sonny Rollins. And I was surprised and impressed by the depth of knowledge and connection to Coltrane’s music and spirit expressed by former President Bill Clinton. But I was not surprised by how often some of these commentators were at a loss for words to describe Coltrane’s music or his influence because, as Sonny says, the only way to truly understand and feel the music is Read more

Seeking Recommendations: Original Jazz CDs

ballads-copyThe other night I was listening to Karrin Allyson, Ballads: Remembering John Coltrane. This was a 2002 Concord Jazz release that celebrated the great John Coltrane Ballads album on Impulse. I love the Allyson version, particularly since I really had never heard the lyrics to a couple of these songs, including Say It (Over and Over Again) and Too Young to Go Steady. Allyson uses three horn players on this record, Bob Berg, Steve Wilson and James Carter, and they each approach the Coltrane material in a very personal way. Her vocal interpretations are absolutely terrific. This is a great album and I recommend it highly. Which brings me to the point of this post. I’ve always been focused on vinyl and I never really took to CDs. I managed to buy a lot of CDs in the day, because they were convenient and I could put six into one of those Sony multi-players or into my car stereo and I wouldn’t have to get up off the sofa or fiddle around with the radio dial in the car. But whenever I wanted to really listen to music, it would always be vinyl.

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Another Stupid List: Favorite Blue Note Tracks

Shades of Redd Jazz VinylThis will be fun. Last night I had another one of those very pleasant listening sessions up in The Berkshires, fueled by a few beers, a few vapes and the knowledge that I could play my music as loud and late as I pleased with no neighbors or anyone else to complain. I was watching politics on television as I do so often these days, taking particular delight in the latest polls showing that the blowhard, maniac, crazy man at the top of the Republic ticket is in steep decline and, IMHO, may not even make it to election day without having some kind of collapse/mental breakdown, if, indeed, we could even tell the difference between a nervous breakdown and the behavior he exhibits every single day on the campaign trail. After a couple of hours of this I had enough and decided to enjoy some music. Read more

A Post About Ballads

Ballads John Coltrane Jazz VinylI go to sleep to music each night. I am still archaic enough to have an iPod and I have created about 50 playlists, all ballads and soft music, and I rotate among them and put them on random play. I find it quite soothing and relaxing and, apparently, so do my usual bedfellows, which would be The Lovely Mrs. JC and the two dogs Marty and Gordon. So last night I was listening and, at random, there came “Who Can I Turn To” by Dexter Gordon and then “Say It (Over and Over Again)” by John Coltrane, and I was listening very closely and both performances were quite lovely and brilliant in their own ways. And, of course, it got me to thinking about who are my favorite ballad players and what are my favorite ballad performances. And, of course, I couldn’t fall asleep because I was mentally going through all of my records and trying to pick out my favorite artists and performances. In the end, before I eventually nodded off, I came up with some thoughts and decided to share them here with you this morning. Read more

Adventures in Jazz Collecting, Tokyo Style

Japan copy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of our readers living in Japan recently sent a note with a story to share so I said, please, write it up. He did and here it is:

By Stuart Levine

I am a regular reader (living in Japan), who especially enjoys Al’s record-collecting adventures. Well I have one of my own to share with the Jazz Collector community. It all started last September in Tokyo. I had heard of Disk Union and wanted to see it for myself. Perhaps, I could score on a nice LP.   When I got off the train at my exit, I could immediately see it to my left – an impressive brick building with a large Disk Union window sign. The only problem was this was not the store noted for its jazz inventory. The real deal, Disk Union “Jazz Tokyo” was about six blocks away. Had it not been for a fellow Southern Californian (wearing a Dodgers cap) walking me over to the right store, I would have come away from this experience very disappointed. My good fortune really started when I was introduced to the head buyer of used jazz vinyl, a soft-spoken gentleman named Katsu. He invited me to come back three months later on Dec. 19th when the store was having a big Blue Note record sale, to the tune of 500 original mono and stereo LPs. Read more

An Evening of Jazz History

Moanin Jazz VinylI 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

Another Adventure in Jazz Collecting: A Bronx Tale, Part Two

Dexter GordonSo, 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.

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Another Adventure in Jazz Collecting: A Bronx Tale, Part One

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:

Jackie and Miles copy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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?

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A New Year’s Adventure in Jazz Collecting

Giant Steps Collection Jazz Vinyl copyI 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

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Guest Column: Adventures in Jazz Collecting, Atlanta Variety

Jazz Collection AtlantaBy Dave S.

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.

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