Guest Column: Meeting Bill Evans

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.

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Guest Column: Ornithology, By Irving Kalus

As promised, here is the paper written by Irving Kalus on Charlie Parker, dated December 22, 1949. I have to really admire that Irving caught on to bebop so quickly and ardently, and he recognized the genius and contribution of Bird. You can see that this paper is written with tremendous passion and feeling and probably some hyperbole that can be easily excused by the exuberance of youth. As Irving’s son Gary told me, Irving was a fan of Benny Goodman . . . well, read it and see. I’ve reprinted the entire paper below and I’m also attaching it as a downloadable PDF (Ornithology). It’s remarkably similar to the article I wrote in 1975, when I was 22 and had the benefit of 20 years of history after Bird had died. You can find my article here: An Old Jazz Collector Tribute to Charlie Parker. Irving was neither a writer nor jazz critic by trade, but he certainly had a gift for both and, from now on, perhaps forever, whenever anyone does a Google search linking on Irving Kalus, the names Charlie Parker and Irving Kalus will be inextricably tied together. It’s a nice thought and a pretty apt tribute, wouldn’t you say?

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Guest Column: Treasure Hunt — Prestige

Miles Davis at Prestige in New York

So Don Lucky was asking me offline about something to do with Prestige, and I suggested he contact Rufolf, and Rudolf replied with this fascinating tale of how he ended up at the Prestige warehouse, and Don Lucky and I said Rudolf you have to write this up  for the rest of the Jazz Collector audience, and Rudolf said sure, and here it is. Enjoy.

Treasure Hunt — Prestige
How a Courtesy Call Turned Out to be the Discovery of the Cave of Ali Baba

By Rudolf Flinterman

In the ‘50s/early ’60s a simple catalog of say Prestige, Blue Note or Contemporary could be of invaluable worth. Without, one simply could not know what was in the market. There were no discographies like Jepsen and Ruppli and no Internet, of course. At the time I would regularly write to Prestige, Pacific Jazz, Blue Note, Atlantic and Contemporary requesting to send me a catalog, which they all did. Lester Koenig always wrote a kind letter. Nesuhi Ertegun of Atlantic was so kind to send me copies of deleted items, for free!

In 1959 Prestige sent me an offer to become a free member of their Jazz & Folk Record Club in Teaneck, N.J. The formula was simple: Pay for two, receive three. Especially for New Jazz, with a list price of $3.98, that was an interesting proposition. I still have the box of the first shipment from Prestige. For three records I paid 2-X-$3.98 plus 89 cents postage, i.e. $2.95 per album, which was the equivalent of 10,75 Dutch florins. At the time the list price in Holland was 18 Dutch florins. No wonder that I became a frequent buyer at Prestige throughout the ‘60s, despite the fact that the sea transport and customs took more than two months.

In 1969 I made my first trip to the U.S. We stayed for one week in Manhattan. I travelled with the then-Mrs.-Rudolf. The first day we made a boat trip with the Circle Line to have a general idea of the city. I then proposed to her to make a courtesy call to a certain Mr. Bob Weinstock – “who would be most happy to make our acquaintance,” I assured. She could hardly object to this great idea. So the next day she found herself in the bus at the Port Authority to go to Bergenfield, N.J.

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Guest Column: A Score For the Ages

We haven’t had a guest column in a while, but here’s a good one from a reader who asks that we refer to him simply as Scott. Enjoy.

It started with a broken turntable. The new turntable my wife bought me at the HiFi shop some three years ago sat unused, not properly set up, broken. I know, I know. Just too busy.  High stress military career, moving, a combat tour in Iraq, and two teenage boys got in the way of my budding interest in vinyl. The day finally came and the turntable was fixed.  Off I went to the estate sales as usual. Not to find vinyl, but to search for tube HiFi gear or vintage speakers.

This particular sale — just last week — was in a 1930s Tudor of perhaps 3,500 square feet.  The owners had obviously lived there since the ‘50s. A sweep of the house revealed no tube equipment, no speakers, and nothing much else of interest. I did note several stacks of records against the wall of one of the bedrooms upstairs. I now had a turntable so I went to look.  I sat on the floor next to another fellow and asked him what was good. He talked about the Riverside label and we chatted. He picked out several and cut his stack to ten records, paid, and left. The stacks were almost all ‘50s jazz with hip covers.  I selected ten, paid the lady the two bucks a record, and went home and played one.

The first record I put on was Helen Merrill (yeah that one). I loved it. I put on another. This one a Blue Note. Wow. Cool. Remember, I didn’t know a Blue Note from a blue bird, but I do know what I like. I went back and bought another 18 just because I liked them including 11 first-issue deep-groove, Blue Notes including BNs 1509, 1518, 1537, 1578, 1537, 1540, 1513, 1545, 1560, 1544, 1560, 1562. Remember, I have no idea what these LPs are selling for. Read more

Guest Column: The Thrill of the Hunt

Imaginary Jazz Encounters The Real Thing

by Jason Sweet

Digging for records can be hard, but rewarding, work. A lot of times it’s right place, right time. You have to have knowledge though, players, producers, labels, and the like. To me, there is no better feeling than combing tiny shops from Indianapolis to Iceland, looking for a record that may only exist in my imagination and finding it. Have I bought records off eBay? Yes I have, though not many. The biggest problem I have with eBay is that I’m being asked to buy something sight unseen. And why relinquish the thrill of the hunt? Buying music on eBay is like trolling Internet pornography: A means to an end, but it will never replace the intimacy of the real thing.

The other day, I stumbled upon one of those “imaginary” finds that keeps us going. I’m a big

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Tales Of The Hunt: Meeting An Idol

Nick from Brooklyn is back with another Tales of the Hunt. You’re going to like this one, but Don-Lucky, it’ll break your heart.

Tales Of The Hunt: The day I met my IDOL!

Like I have mentioned in previous Tales of The Hunt, I used to send postcards to record companies, etc, with these Tales of The Hunt. I had found a great rock instrumental and the BMI publishing company was in a residential area of Brooklyn, so I sent a postcard to the address requesting records. Around a month later I received a phone call wanting to know why I had wrote him. I explained that I found this record and that I sell records and wanted to know if he had any more of them left. He said he might and we set up an appointment. When I arrived at his house his wife answered the door, she greeted me with a big smile and invited me in, we had coffee and were talking about the music business, he then pulled out a few boxes of 45 RPM records and told me to take what I could use. I asked him how much and he waved his hand as to forget it. He then pulled out some records

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Tales of the Hunt: Tribute To A Friend

Nick From Brooklyn is back with another in his ongoing Tales of the Hunt series. Enjoy.

It was, I believe, 1993 and a friend had called me and asked me to track an arranger by the name of Larry Lucie. At the time I did not know it would be the most rewarding journey I would have of all the people I came in contact with in the music business. After looking for a couple of days on and off, I came up with his name in New York’s Union Book for musicians under “Guitar.” I called his home phone number and explained that I was a dealer and collector of jazz. As soon as I said jazz he invited me over to his home, which I think was on 43rd Street and 9th Avenue. When I arrived it was like I was a lost friend, he greeted me with a welcome I will always remember, he was what I call a Teddy Bear of a guy. We went up to his apartment, we started talking about jazz and he started telling me stories about who he played with, and I sat there

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Tales From the Hunt, Redux

Our friend Nick from Brooklyn is back with another Tales From the Hunt:

Besides collecting Jazz I also collected literature on record companies, music publishers, etc. I used to send out between 10 to 20 postcards a week, all over the United States requesting records. Companies and people that were in New York City or in New Jersey I would search out myself. I had sent a postcard to this record company in upstate New York called Chroma Records. Now many companies I never heard of and I did not have a clue what type of music they had. A couple of weeks later I get a tape and it says our latest release and the price, which is $2. It was Country and it was not my cup of tea. I go to throw the letter in the garbage and it gets stuck in my hand. To me this was a omen. Read more

Tales From the Hunt: A Spree Grows in Brooklyn

Nick From Brooklyn is back with another Tale From the Hunt. I’ll call this one “A Spree Grows in Brooklyn.”

I would like to thank Al for giving me the chance to re live some of my experiences with records. And to all of you collectors for your nice comments. I used to have a loose-leaf book that I used for my notes on tracking records. Everything was in order from A to Z. I was going through one of my music books. I used to have a lot of Billboard International Buyers Guides, which listed record companies, music publishers, arrangers, etc. I also had Local 802 musician books; also I had BMI, ASCAP, SESAC Books, and a lot of other literature on music. I was trying to see if I could get a lead on a particular record label called Celeste Records, which put out some dynamite group records in the mid-1950’s, one in particular The Mellows. From all of the notes I kept on Celeste, I was able to track the owner to an address on Franklin Avenue in Brooklyn’s Bedford/Stuyvesant neighborhood so off I went looking. At this time the records on this label were bringing big bucks. I got to the address. The building was

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Still More Tales of the Hunt

Nick from Brooklyn is back with another from his ongoing Tales of the Hunt series. I don’t have a title for this one, but I will apologize in advance if it offends any little people, drag queens, call girls or anyone else. Nick from Brooklyn, as previously noted, has become an irresistible force and I hate to stifle his creativity with too much editing. This one is pretty much as he wrote it with some minor modifications.

This is going to be three stories that happen in the same building, months apart in the late 1970’s. The building that these three stories happen is around two blocks from the old Madison Square Garden on 49th St and 8th Avenue. I believe the address was 888 8th Avenue. The first story is about a call I get from a record producer his name I have forgotten, telling me he got my postcard and that he has produced hundreds of records and for me to drop by his apartment. We set up an appointment. It was a Saturday, I remember this as if it was yesterday, getting off of the elevator I’m all excited I knock on the door it opens and I am staring straight ahead at nothing but a wall, oh as I look down, it’s a dwarf. He sort of looked like the actor from the old Phillip-Morris cigarette ads. Nick come in, I’ve been waiting for you, tea, coffee, can I get you anything, I thanked him and told him tea. He is talking a mile a minute about this recording artist, this record, that artist, and how he has been in the music and circus business for over 50 years. After finishing the tea and listening to him for close to an hour, I told him excuse me, do you have any records I can look at, he gets up goes in the hall opens the closet

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