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.
Much later in the day, I luckily plug one of these titles in my computer. Wow again. I’m headed back to the sale, but I’m late. The sale is over for the day, but they know me and let me in. I go back and buy the wall for about a buck and a half a record. Perhaps 160 records with 90 of them matching items in the Jazz Collector Price Guide. First issues like Mobley’s Message Prestige 7061, Byrd’s Eye View, Getz, Rollins, Garland, Horace Silver, Kenny Drew, and it goes on and on. Everything is in lovely shape, first issue, with the majority of the covers in VG+ to VG++ and the vinyl in mostly M- condition. While I am sitting on the floor at the sale an older man asks me if I like records. I hesitate. He says he has 2,000 records for fifty cents each, my pick. I get his number and visit. No jazz. I buy some cool stuff, mostly old rock like a double live album from the Dead. I should have bought more. I will go back and buy more classical and rock before his garage sale in April. Any cheaper and it would be free.
I’m hooked now… so I go to my local used record store not expecting to see much and score two more Deep Groove Blue Notes and a Liberty. Not as nice as the others, but hey. Tomorrow I am going back and picking up Prestige 7002, 7146, 7087, and Argo 688. The best part of all this is a whole new world has opened up to me. I am not sure how I missed out on this for so long.
Good hunting! — Scott