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
I’ve been on a bit of a Bill Evans tangent recently. If you’re going to be on a tangent, you could do a lot worse. I’ve been listening to a lot of Evans, mostly the Riverside records, and then I also put on Kind of Blue the other night and I recall thinking to myself that, in many ways, Kind of Blue sounds in some places more like an Evans album than a Miles album. I know there’s always been a bit of controversy about who actually wrote Blue In Green, but all it takes is a cursory listen to hear that it seems more Evans than Miles. Anyway, I’m not looking to open up old wounds or start new controversies. But I want to do two things: 1. Point you all to this very interesting article on the Influence of Evans, The Bill Evans Legacy, by Doug Ramsey in The Wall Street Journal the other day. It’s nice that his genius remains recognized and appreciated and still discussed in the mainstream media. 2: I wanted to post the great recording of My Foolish Heart from Waltz for Debby, just because I love it and wanted to share it with a bunch of my friends. So, enjoy:
I was planning to go to dinner and a movie with The Lovely Mrs. JC when I sat down at the kitchen table at about 4:30 p.m. to do The New York Times crossword, which is always a challenge on Friday. I was able to get it done fairly quickly and decided to swing over to the listings to double check on the time of the movie. While there, I figured I would look and see what was doing on the jazz scene, not that I go to live jazz so frequently these days. I usually tell people I don’t go as often because most of the artists I would prefer to see are dead, but that is probably just a lame excuse for the reality that I am still working hard, still getting older and don’t stay out as late as I used to in my halcyon years. Still, there is some unfortunate truth to my rationale in that I much prefer seeing and listening to the artists and music that we write about here at Jazz Collector. And there are, unfortunately, very few of them left to actually see.
Let’s move off jazz vinyl for a day. I’ve been listening to a recent Mosaic release: The Rosemary Clooney CBS Radio Recordings 1955-61. This is a five-CD set of 104 songs recorded by Clooney for three CBS radio shows produced by Bing Crosby. Why have I been listening to these CDs when I could have used the same time to place original Blue Notes or Prestiges on my beautiful refurbished Lynn Sondek turntable? Two reasons:
One: I happen to be a huge fan of Rosemary Cooney—not her work in the 1950s when she was a pop icon, but the series of albums she made for Concord Jazz starting in 1977 and ending with her death in 2002. These, in fact, are some of my favorite vocal records in my collection, particularly Everything’s Coming Up Rosie, Here’s to My Lady, Rosie Sings Bing, For the Duration, and Rosemary Clooney Sings the Music of Irving Berlin. I like them all, to be honest. It helps that on these albums she is typically accompanied by top-flight jazz artists such as Scott Hamilton, Warren Vache, Nat Pierce, John Oddo, Chuck Israels and many others too numerous to name. But it’s not the accompaniment that knocks me out. It’s the singer. The simple, clear, moving and heartfelt presentations of the songs, each one sung as if the singer had lived and experienced them deeply—and had also experienced quite a bit of life along the way. Which, of course, was exactly the case with Rosemary Clooney.
Sorry to leave you all hanging there, but the meat of the story has been told. At the time, because I thought I was writing a chapter for a book that has still to be written, I wrote one more entry, which was this:
It’s time to starting moving the Blue Notes off the temporary shelf and into the collection. What does this entail? Well, first off each record needs to be washed and cleaned on my VPI record cleaner. Then, I’ll look at the inner sleeve and determine if it needs a new one. I’ll try to listen to each record, or at least one side, before it does into the collection. Then, if it’s new to the collection, I’ll put a sticker on the plastic outer sleeve with the name of the artist, the catalogue number, the condition and probably the value. Something like:
Blue Note 4048
Original West 63rd, DG
Why do I do this? Well, not to be morbid about it, I do this so that when I die my family will know what the records are actually worth. I’ve seen too many circumstances where people got ripped off because they had no idea about the value of the records. Heck, I may have done some of the ripping off myself.
The final batch of records has arrived. The guy from the shipping department in the building just brought them up on a hand truck. Three boxes – those banker’s box file boxes, the brown and white ones you get in Stapes. They’ve never been good for storing or transporting records, but hopefully this batch made it through safely. Opening the first box. There’s a sheath of what looks to be sheepskin or some kind of cotton on top. Nice. The records seem safe. On top, an Errol Garner record. No big deal. Going through the records. Each has the same type of soft plastic cover: I have a feeling these were the original covers on the records. In the 1950s and 1960s they didn’t use what we have come to know as shrink wrap, but they used a cover and it fit loosely over the records, just like these. They certainly seem old enough, and dirty enough, and covered with enough dust to have been original covers from the 1950s. No matter. Getting through the box, one by one, record by record.