Feb 15, 2010 Jazz Memoirs
So many comments to follow up on, but first let me finish my little trilogy about my visit to Infinity Records. Given the market conditions for music the days, it’s easy to assume that the days of the brick and mortar record store are numbered. In the mainstream music market, CDs are collapsing as the medium shifts to an online digital model. In the collectibles market, eBay has become the dominant sales medium. But, for now at least, it seems there is still room for a few places where people can physically walk into a store and purchase music. I happened to be in lower Manhattan a few weeks ago with time to kill and I popped in to J&R Music. It was jam-packed with people. And I was amazed to see the rows and rows and rows of CDs. They even had four bins of new vinyl — lots of recent Blue Note pressings — as well as a wall full of collectible vinyl that featured autographed covers, including Billie Holiday, Dexter Gordon and others. The key was that they were comprehensive: You got the sense that if there was a jazz CD you wanted, you’d be able to find it there — as opposed to walking into a Border’s or Barnes and Noble, where the music is clearly secondary. There is also room, I think, for good record stores that understand the collectibles market. I spoke to Joe Ostermeier at Infinity — that’s Joe in the picture, standing in front of his wall of records — and he said business is still solid, no major let up as the music world has
changed. Infinity is not strictly a jazz store, like the Jazz Record Center in Manhattan, but Joe has always been able to find good jazz and sell it at fair prices. The interesting thing about his approach is that he generally puts his rare records out on display in the store first — before they go on eBay. This way he attracts people to the store and enables his regular customers to have a first shot at the best records before they go out into the world. As I mentioned the other day, I purchased the Tal Farlow Album on Norgran and the Teddy Charles Prestige record right off the wall. As you can see in the picture, there were other nice collectibles: Sonny Rollins, The Bridge; Dexter Gordon, Our Man in Paris; Art Blakey And the Jazz Messengers at The Bohemia Volume 1; Miles Davis, Kind of Blue; Ornette Coleman, The Shape of Jazz To Come. These records will stay on the wall for 30 to 90 days before they go onto eBay. The sad thing is, Infinity is the last of the really good record stores that sell jazz on all of Long Island, at least as far as I can tell. If there are others, please let me know. There was a time when there were more than a dozen stores with collectible jazz records and it was always an adventure getting into the car for a day of exploration. You never knew what you might find. But those days, for sure, are gone forever. Hopefully, Infinity will stick around for a while longer.