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Mark Stryker

Kamasi Washington: NYT Magazine profile

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Well, Kamasi hasn't reached the provincial record shops of North West England yet. No sign of The Epic in either the vinyl or CD section of HMV Stockport this morning. Looks like a trip to Manchester or mail order.

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Allen, I don't see any huge promotional machine behind Kamasi Washington. I have never seen his CD in any Barnes and Noble, Wal Mart, Target, or any other brick and mortar store. He is on the list of Top Albums of the Year on some online blogs and webpages, but that it about it. All of my jazz loving friends around the United States who are not on the Organissimo board, had never heard of him until I mentioned him recently. What huge promotion are you talking about?

I am quite sure that if he was booked to play in Kansas City, that he would draw less than 50 people. He is not a widely known artist, at all. He has never been mentioned once in our Kansas City daily newspaper.

Also, Allen, what "consensus" are you pushing back against? As far as I can tell, fewer than twenty people have written about him online, or named his album to their Top Albums of 2015 Lists. Who notices those lists anyway? I know that I never read them. Mostly he is completely unknown, except maybe in his hometown, and among a tiny circle of online bloggers.

I think that you are firing a cruise missile at a flea.

Edited by Hot Ptah

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I don't see it as a "jazz" promotion. According to many that would just turn people away. Seems more like a Flying Lotus type of thing as the audience being sought.

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In an earlier post, I wrote that (this article) probably can't hurt. Thinking about it, I'd have to reconsider that statement. It can hurt, in that it's part of the general dumbing down of what the media feeds the public.

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I have noticed over the last 15 years or so that many articles and essays about jazz, especially in general circulation media, have been written in a way which assumes that the reader knows nothing about jazz. This article is not the worst of that genre, to be sure. For example, in the late 1970s, an article about Dizzy Gillespie would not start out by identifying him as a trumpet player, and an important jazz musician, with some general explanation of what jazz music is all about. Now, that type of article in a daily newspaper might very well contain that very basic information.

Edited by Hot Ptah

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I was in my local Bricks & Mortar (Music Millennium, Portland OR) last night and they happened to be playing the Epic, so I talked to the guys working there about it (one of whom I've know for years, one not).  They were both enthusiastic about it: both personally and because it was selling well for them.  My older friend said he was selling it mostly to older guys and the younger clerk said he was selling it to younger peeps.  I enjoyed it well enuff while I was shopping, didn't buy anything and went home and listened to Pharaoh Sanders.

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Today I went to my Barnes and Noble store in Kansas City to buy a book and decided to go to the music section to see if there was a promotional push behind Kamasi Washington's "The Epic." There were no copies in the jazz section.

i asked the staffer if they had it on display elsewhere in the store. He had never heard of "The Epic" or Kamasi Washington. He looked on the computer and said that no Barnes and Noble store in Kansas City has a copy. Then he said, "this is odd. We can't order it. It is in a special category, considered so unsellable by Corporate that we are not allowed to get it shipped to our store. Very few CDs or DVDs get that designation. Usually we can order in just about anything."

Barnes and Noble is the only brick and mortar store that I know of which is still open in Kansas City and routinely carries a reasonably complete selection of current music releases.

So Allen Lowe, you may be relieved that there does not seem to be any promotional campaign going on for Kamasi Washington or "The Epic." If there is, it is not effective on a national level.

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I listened to "The Epic" on Youtube, with the thought that I would buy it if anything really "hit" me.  Three CDs worth of material is a lot to digest, and while I did hear some things that were pretty interesting, nothing really stood out.  It did, however, lead me back to some Coltrane records I haven't listened to in quite awhile.

I'll give it another listen at some point.  For now, I'll continue to spin Kendrick Lamar's latest record, which is friggin' fantastic.

 

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People still buy music at Barnes & Noble?

I'm serious, the only time I go in there now is on a whim to pick up some magazines. And every time I've gone to the back of the store, where the CDs are, it's been deader than dead. One time, the dude seemed pissed off that I had disturbed his nap that he was about to take. Another time, I asked the lady if I could pay for my magazines back there and she said something about not really knowing how that would work as  far as the register went. I asked her what would you do if I bought magazines AND a CD, and she smirked and said yeah, right.

The final nail in that coffin was when I went shopping to get some Beatles CD for somebody for Christmas in 2014 and it was $5.00 higher there than it was at Fry's. Hell, it cost less on B&N Dotcom, but it was kind of a rush purchase. I told the dude, hey, how do you expect to sell these at this price, and he was like LOL, seriously?

It seems like B&N (in this area, anyway) offers CDs the way that grocery stores in Vegas offer slot machines - it's not what any normal person would go there for, but if you're sucker enough to indulge, they'll be happy to take your money.

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The Barnes and Noble store on the Plaza in Kansas City has a pretty large and deep CD selection. It also has an area of CDs for $3.99, $5.99 and $7.99.

Other than Barnes and Noble there is no other brick and mortar store in Kansas City with a selection of new releases on CD.

So if "The Epic" was being promoted nationwide in a big marketing blitz, that is where it should have been available in my city. But as I said above, it was not available and could not be ordered by the store.

Edited by Hot Ptah

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They're keeping it out on purpose so "those type" of people don't come looking for it.

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4 hours ago, JSngry said:

They're keeping it out on purpose so "those type" of people don't come looking for it.

What does that mean? Seriously, I don't understand what you mean by that.

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12 hours ago, Hot Ptah said:

Today I went to my Barnes and Noble store in Kansas City to buy a book and decided to go to the music section to see if there was a promotional push behind Kamasi Washington's "The Epic." There were no copies in the jazz section.

i asked the staffer if they had it on display elsewhere in the store. He had never heard of "The Epic" or Kamasi Washington. He looked on the computer and said that no Barnes and Noble store in Kansas City has a copy. Then he said, "this is odd. We can't order it. It is in a special category, considered so unsellable by Corporate that we are not allowed to get it shipped to our store. Very few CDs or DVDs get that designation. Usually we can order in just about anything."

Barnes and Noble is the only brick and mortar store that I know of which is still open in Kansas City and routinely carries a reasonably complete selection of current music releases.

So Allen Lowe, you may be relieved that there does not seem to be any promotional campaign going on for Kamasi Washington or "The Epic." If there is, it is not effective on a national level.

Could this be because its a 3-disc set by a relatively unknown artist and the price point is something that doesn't agree with B&N buying policies?

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1 hour ago, Hot Ptah said:

What does that mean? Seriously, I don't understand what you mean by that.

When was the last time you saw a Black Lives Matter demonstration held at a Barnes & Noble?

Just sayin'...it's one thing for the store to not be able to locate it, quite another for Corporate to put out a DO NOT HAVE THIS RECORD IN ON NEAR YOUR STORE blockade/boycott in place.

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18 minutes ago, JSngry said:

When was the last time you saw a Black Lives Matter demonstration held at a Barnes & Noble?

Just sayin'...it's one thing for the store to not be able to locate it, quite another for Corporate to put out a DO NOT HAVE THIS RECORD IN ON NEAR YOUR STORE blockade/boycott in place.

Kamasi is a musical director of Black Lives Matter? Seriously, I don't know.

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No, but he's seen as part of the cultural synergy that has sprung up around the movement.

Seriously no idea to what extent B&N Corporate thinks in these terms, but I do think it's funny that they've put out a mandate that goes all George Wallace and stands in the front door of that record trying to get into that store.

I'd like to know what else is on that list, things that are so "unsellable" that you have to tell an interested customer that they can't be sold.

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It's available on B&N's site for 21.65. Q

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Yeah, they'll sell it to you from their computer, just don't come into the store looking for it, at least not in Kansas City. Just stay in your own neighborhood and they'll get it to you there.

"this is odd. We can't order it. It is in a special category, considered so unsellable by Corporate that we are not allowed to get it shipped to our store. Very few CDs or DVDs get that designation. Usually we can order in just about anything."

Governor-George-Wallace-a-008.jpg

Hold it right there The Epic, just where do you think you're going?

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It's a vast right wing conspiracy.

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The politics of indie-label record distribution should never be assumed or otherwise taken for granted.

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There is a section for gangsta rap CDs at this Barnes and Noble.. I very seriously doubt that "The Epic" is not being carried because of any racial issues. I think it is just considered too obscure a release to warrant any shelf space. I mentioned this because the album had been attacked earlier in this thread for having a marketing campaign behind it and I wanted to point out that it does not seem to be riding the crest of any marketing wave.

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Just sayin' - somebody in the B&N Corporate Chain made a deliberate decision that a record that was getting some buzz in some circles (and within that buzz was being associated with a certain political movement) was under no circumstances going to be allowed inside the walls of a Kansas City Barnes & Noble. Not one copy,.

That just sounds silly to me. Silly and weird. Maybe the label's got something against engaging mainstream corporate brick and mortar distribution channels. Maybe the B&N regional office don't want potential Black Lives Matter demonstrators having chance meetings in their stores.

Either way, it's simply bizarre, that an individual inquiry into the availability of the items leads to a response of we have been forbidden from having this in our store.

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18 minutes ago, Hot Ptah said:

There is a section for gangsta rap CDs at this Barnes and Noble.. I very seriously doubt that "The Epic" is not being carried because of any racial issues. I think it is just considered too obscure a release to warrant any shelf space. I mentioned this because the album had been attacked earlier in this thread for having a marketing campaign behind it and I wanted to point out that it does not seem to be riding the crest of any marketing wave.

Just about to say something like this.  It's not carried instore because it doesn't sell and just takes up space whereas it can just sit in the warehouse until someone wants it or B & N contacts its distributor to order it.

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