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:
You’re really not going to believe what happened to me yesterday. I’m up at my house in The Berkshires and we were hosting some friends for brunch. I did some cleanup in the morning and decided at the last-minute that I would have to go to the town dump to get rid of some garbage before I guests arrived. So I piled some garbage into the car, loaded my dog Marty onto the front seat and headed for the dump. In our local town here, there’s a small shack at the dump where people get rid of stuff they don’t want so that others who may be interested can just take it, free. They call it a swap shop and, occasionally, I’ve found some odds and ends in there, a couple of records, some decent speakers, nothing special. Yesterday, because I was in a bit of a hurry, I wasn’t even going to check, but it only takes a minute and it’s hard to resist. You never know what’s going to be there.
We haven’t had a guest column in a while, but here’s one that came in recently. I will let it speak for itself:
How I met Bill Evans…
First let me introduce myself… I am Mervyn de Gannes from Trinidad & Tobago. Born in the 1920’s, I am the third child in a family of seven kids and the first born boy. In those days, there was a piano in most homes and the girls always took lessons to learn to play. Even at the age of ten when the tutor came to our home, I would be listening in, and whenever my sisters were practicing and played anything incorrectly, I would let them know what they were ‘playing wrong’. Obviously this didn’t go over well with them as I never took lessons. By my late teenage years, by just listening to records and playing by ear, I was performing at friends’ parties until I got married at 26. My idols then were Bill Evans along with Errol Garner and Oscar Peterson.
I was watching that Clifford Brown autograph (as well as Max Roach, Sonny Rollins, et al), but didn’t have enough interest to actually bid on it. To my surprise, there were only five bidders altogether, which would seem to indicate minimal interest at that price, which turned out to be $482.11. I did casually mention when I wrote the earlier post that Clifford was probably among my top five musicians of all time and that I would ponder that and do another post on it this weekend. Sometimes, as we all do, I say and do stupid things. It was stupid to even suggest that I could create a list of top five favorite musicians, when there are so many musicians I love and each musician brings something different and special to my life and my enjoyment of music. Last night I was listening to the Dexter Gordon record, Getting’ Around, Blue Note 4204, and I was thinking about how much I love Dexter and how much I treasured seeing him as often as I did in the early and mid-1970s, particularly his very first club date when he began playing again in the United States. And, goodness, what an amazing ballad performance on “Who Can I Turn To.” And then I put on two Miles Davis records, Kind of Blue and Sketches of Spain, and I thought