I play a little bit of jazz guitar — very little bit — but I am fortunate to have grown up with a fantastic, world-class jazz guitarist and we have remained great friends and this weekend we are doing a gig here in the beautiful Berkshire Mountains of Western Massachusetts. There are many stories I can tell about the circumstances that have led to this gig, 30-plus years in the making, but I will be brief. My friend, Dan Axelrod, was a musical prodigy from early childhood and he lived down the street from me and somehow we both fell in love with jazz as teenagers – Dan because he could play it as well as anyone and I because it was music that was always around, in my pores, courtesy of my dad. Dan and I used to hang around a lot and at various points he would teach me chords and how to strum and eventually I was proficient enough to accompany him as a rhythm guitarist, as long as we kept the changes relatively simple and dispatched with the suspended flatted fifths, ninths and thirteenths. What I lacked in ability I made up for in chutzpah and eventually I found us a gig at a local place called the Rainy Nighthouse and I somehow convinced Dan that this would be a fun thing to do, two nights a week. We were still in our late teens. Dan, if I recall properly, was studying with Billy Bauer and perhaps a little with Jim Hall and had not yet met his guitar hero, Tal Farlow, who would eventually become his great friend and mentor. Read more
Back to my Red Carraro stories. If Red were alive today and reading this he’d look at the name on the Web site and swear he never knew me. That’s because when I first met Red I was still going by my childhood nickname, which was “Lit.” This came from being somewhat short in height and someone once started calling me little and it became Lit and it really stuck. Kids in school called me “Lit Perlman” but Red never knew my last name, or my first name, and always just called me Lit. “Lit, hey how ya doin,” Red would always say when he’d see me, with a smile and a warm pat on the pack. “I see you’re still hustlin’ for records.”
When I started my journalism career my first paying job was as the jazz critic for the New Times in Syracuse, an alternative weekly paper. I’ve repurposed at least one of my articles here at Jazz Collector in Memories of Mingus. Anyway, I had spent the first half of 1973 at home in Bayside mending my broken leg and spending a lot of time at Red’s house, in the basement, poring through records and listening to music. It was definitely good times. When I got back to Syracuse, I wanted to do Red a favor so I wrote a review of a record
I have another story for you.
As many of you may recall, I have this oddball penchant for occasional wild gambles on eBay: Purchasing records that are not well described or, more often, buying batches of records that might contain one or two gems without having any sense of whether the listing is accurate or even feasible. I have done this maybe a couple of dozen times and it has almost always worked out to my advantage.I tried it again recently and thought I had finally met my Waterloo.
Here it is: I was recently up the country for a couple of weeks, doing work, doing fishing, some writing, a little Jazz Collector and occasionally looking at eBay. One day I was perusing the eBay listings and came upon a listing that was as follows:
Jazz Record Albums – 118 Albums from collector.
The seller had zero feedback: A complete eBay novice. In the description he noted that these records were the collection from his late stepfather, who was a CPA and accountant for musicians. It was a really strange list with a lot of non-jazz, such as Al Green and
I can’t tell you all how much pleasure it gives me to see the many wonderful comments about Red Carraro from his family and friends, as well as from the many jazz collectors whose lives he touched. This was why I started the Jazz Collector site in the first place, to build this kind of community. That it has actually happened is intensely gratifying, as you can imagine.
But I also left you all in the middle of a story, with me in a cast clutching a batch of records, sitting with Red in his basement, with no way of getting home. So there were Red and I sitting there, no idea what to do, when the door flung open and Dan came charging down the stairs again.
“Are you giving me the record?” he said.
“No,” I replied.
He looked at Red, as if Red should fix this with a Solomon-like gesture of perhaps breaking Read more
There was a time, before the Internet and eBay, when jazz record dealers would amass hundreds of collectible records and compile them in lists and send those lists all over the world so that collectors could bid on them, blindly, hoping they would make the top bid and receive a shipment of rare jazz vinyl several weeks later. One of the leading and last practitioners of this fading art was a gentleman, and I use that word purposefully, by the name of William Carraro, known to all as “Red.” I am sad to report that Red passed away in his sleep yesterday morning.
I will tell you more about Red in a subsequent post, but first let me tell you the story of the first time I met Red. It was back in the early 1970s and I had just started collecting jazz records. I was 19 years old. My good friend from childhood Dan Axelrod had also begun collecting jazz records at the same time and Dan was far more obsessive about it than I was, so he was always finding scores before me. He’d call from Philadelphia or Miami, out of breath, describing beautiful Blue Notes
Now we get to the batch of records that turned out to be the most pleasant surprise of all. There was at one point a group listed as such: Bill Evans, Seven Riverside LPs. There was a picture on the Web site and there was a copy of Waltz for Debby in there and perhaps an original pressing of New Jazz Conceptions as well. Anyway, I was hoping to steal this one, but once the bidding surpassed $400 I realized there was no steal to be had and I had better keep my mouth shut. The package eventually went for $650. Ah, well. However, about 15 minutes later there was another group of LPs, described as such: Bill Evans, Eleven LPs, Eight Verve and Three Riverside. There was no picture or other description. I won this lot at $80, so my total for these 11 records was $93.60. This is a great batch of music, and each record is in
Sorry to leave you hanging on Part 2 of this story. So I am on the phone listening to the auctioneer in the background. He is describing each lot – Here’s Number 14, Kenny Burrell on Blue Note, do I hear one hundred, a hundred ten, a hundred twenty, a hundred thirty, two hundred, two ten. This is going by in what seems like nanoseconds. For me to get in a bid I have to decide quickly how much, then I have to react quickly and, in the end I have one or two seconds to decide as the auctioneer is getting ready to close the auction. It’s a bit of an adrenaline rush, as you may imagine. Anyway, I lose out on all the Burrell records and I’m feeling a bit guilty about tying up the phone line and the next thing I know I’m bidding on a couple of Wes Montgomery records and the guy on the other end of the phone, who is the brother of the auctioneer, is telling me it looks like I’m going to win these records. And I do. One is Full House, a great Riverside record featuring Johnny Griffin. The other is The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery, also on Riverside. I have bid $60 for
I participated in a jazz auction the other night. Not an eBay auction, but a traditional auction with real people and an auctioneer and a gavel. Here’s the story: A few weeks ago I got a call from a guy named David Quinn who said he ran an auction house and had in his possession a collection of jazz records and CDs from an estate sale. I helped David out with some information about the jazz collectibles market and he told me he’d send me a list and let me know when the auction was taking place. It was in the Washington DC area. I couldn’t make it down there, so I asked if I could be on the phone and perhaps bid on a few items. He arranged it and when the first item was put on the block at about 6:30 on Wednesday night, there I was on the phone, bidding on items I hadn’t actually seen. This put me at a pretty stark disadvantage, because there were about 30 people physically in the room at Quinn’s Auction Galleries in Falls Church, Va. These people could physically see the items: I was going on guts and instincts and whatever pictures were available online. The thing with this type of auction, the auction house gets
When I was six my parents took me to a jazz show somewhere in New York. I think it was the Palladium, but my memory doesn’t stretch back far enough to remember the exact location. I do remember that there was George Shearing on the bill and I didn’t understand how a blind man could play the piano. How did he know what to play without seeing the keys? And there was the Miles Davis quintet or sextet, and I’m pretty sure I saw Trane when I was six. I wish I could have appreciated it. The education in jazz from my parents continued. There were Sunday afternoon concerts at the Village Gate — Jazz Interactions, they were called — and brunches and late afternoon shows at the Five Spot and the Red Garter, all when I was pre-teen and early teen. I remember my father going up to Kenny Burrell and asking if he’d give me lessons. That was not cool. Anyway, Burrell was warm and friendly and I noticed in my collection the other day an autographed copy of Blue Bash!, Kenny Burrell with Jimmy Smith on Verve signed: “To Diane and Hal, Best Wishes, Kenny Burrell.” All of which is a roundabout way of saying how much I appreciate this great gift my parents gave me and that I am quite sad to report that my mom just passed away unexpectedly. I will be taking a few days off from Jazz Collector, so there will be no new posts from me, but I am hopeful that you guys can fill in the slack. I will post an item right after I post this called: Reader Forum. Please use this to post new comments and keep an eye on eBay and keep the conversation going while I step away for a few days. Thanks.
I will let you in on one of my dirty little collecting secrets. Sometimes I will take a flyer and bid on a box or collection of records on eBay from a seller who may not know what he’s doing. The goal is to find one or two gems. I do this for a few reasons: 1. I’m a gambler at heart, so I’m always one to take risks. 2. The first time I ever did this I bought a box of records for about $60 and, when they arrived, they were loaded with original Verves and Prestiges that I estimated to be worth at least $3,000. So I was a bit hooked. 3. The cost of shipping these boxes overseas is often prohibitive so, generally, the competition for these items is not so steep, just U.S. buyers. Which brings me to my most recent purchase, shown in the picture. It was clear when I looked at the picture that just about every record here was virtually worthless. Except for one. Can you identify it? Look at the