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Teasing the Korean

Your Early Parameters for Buying or Avoiding Certain Jazz Albums

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Based on something that @Rooster_Ties posted in the Clifford Brown thread, I would be interested in hearing about our particular parameters, or lack thereof, when it came to buying jazz records when we were first learning about the music.

I don't think I had very many.  I was fortunate to have been exposed to jazz, big band, and pseudo-jazz through my parents, so I had heard Fats Waller, Ellington, Benny Goodman, and the Great American Songbook before I ever bought a jazz record.

The first jazz record I bought, when I was in junior high, was Dave Brubeck - either Time Out or Greatest Hits, can't remember which was first.  I remember early on that I was more interested in getting at least one record by as many artists as possible, rather than being a completist.  That said, I did go on a Bud Powell binge in high school and bought several of his Blue Note and Verve albums.

I was open to all kinds of styles and periods, but I was on the fence about fusion.  There are some sub-genres of fusion that I like to this day, and others of which have never appealed to me.  The subgrenre in which everyone seems to be playing never ending lines of 16th notes, regardless of who is soloing, is my least favorite.

Two things that I gravitated towards were the cutout bin - there were lots of great jazz cutouts in the late 70s/early 80s - and the twofer LP reissues, which offered a lot of music at a reasonable price.

But I generally went for acoustic-based jazz, everything from swing to free jazz, and tended to avoid fusion, or anything that had cover art like albums by Dave Grusin (whose film scores I adore, incidentally).

I also avoided CTI albums at that time.  I now like many pre-disco CTI albums as long as Bob James is not involved. 

As Ralph Freed famously asked, how about you?

Edited by Teasing the Korean

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I stopped buying "rock" records in late1970 (I think that Burnt Weenie Sandwich was the last one?) and didn't even start even considering them until 1976 or so., so this is all about jazz and jazz-tangential records.

My biggest source was a discount department store called Treasure City, kind of a cross between what is today something like Big Lots and Wal-Mart. They sold regular releases, but had bins, rows of bins, of cutouts. There wer other stores in the area that also handled cutouts, but Treasure City was a place you could spend an hour or more just thumbing through those cutouts. And the stock was not stale, the pond would be restocked at regular intervals, so to speak.

My earliest rule of cutouts (once I started know a little something) was that unless it was a collection of 78s, that a record with longer tracks would get bought before one with shorter cuts. I figured that the shorter the cuts, the more likely the album was to be "commercial", and at the time, that mattered.

But then, after I bought all those (and if none got added), I would go for the ones with the shorter cuts. My guideline was that if there was a max of 3 cuts/side, all-in. 4 cuts, how much is this record? And 4+ cuts per side, have I bought everything else yet?

Other than that...yeah, anything over $4.98, I either had to know what I was getting, or else know that it was something I wanted to be getting. I didn't know anything except what I had read (and the library...a few books, but a complete collection of Saturday Review, which reviewed a lot of jazz records, actually), so I was very much learning as I went. So I had to develop my taste in real time...haven't really changed that, either, although I now actually do know a few things, but just a few, compared to all there is to know.

Once computerized inventory practices eliminated waste (and therefore cutouts),  record buying was less fun, because small-stakes gambling is fun.

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Take a record I already had and liked, say Kind of Blue or Caddy For Daddy, first buy other leader dates by Miles or Hank, then buy leader dates by the side men, so Something Else, Blue Trane and Sidewinder, then extrapolate from there, ad infinitum.  And before you know it I've got nearly everything on Blue Note and a bunch of Eric Dolphy on Prestige and so on.  Price and 'will I ever see this again' were sometimes factors, but not consistently.  and I never stopped buying other things.  I'm obsessive, but not very methodical.

Edited by danasgoodstuff

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That "connect the dots" approach is a good one, but it only worked if you had steady access to a good record store...until the internet came along, anyway...

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4 minutes ago, JSngry said:

That "connect the dots" approach is a good one, but it only worked if you had steady access to a good record store...until the internet came along, anyway...

It's the exact one I used using two used record stores in St Louis (neither of them Euclid Records, I only went there rarely, not convenient enough a location) followed by Sally's Place in Westport.

I never applied a year or specific price cut-off in exploring when it was all record store picking, and even after the internet never considered samples very often at all. 

Dot connecting sometimes did not work out very well, one I definitely remember was 1-2 Ken McIntyre Steeplechases, purchased because of Kenny Drew. Thankfully, the great local store at that time was in Columbia South Carolina, Papa Jazz, and even though they had a prominent sign that said "if you buy a record and don't like it, it is now a used record. Store credit will be given accordingly," they realized how much I was buying and quietly gave me full value store credit on anything I brought back.

Plus they gave me a t-shirt when I told them I was leaving grad school and moving to CT.

 

 

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32 minutes ago, JSngry said:

That "connect the dots" approach is a good one, but it only worked if you had steady access to a good record store...until the internet came along, anyway...

Yes, I used the connect-the-dots approach, but my buying was also fairly haphazard, i.e., what I stumped upon for a good price.

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In 1957 when I was 17 and still at school I was buying 78s of Bill Haley and his Comets. An older boy, who must have been all of 18(!) took me aside and said, "You shouldn't be wasting your time with this stuff - you should be listening to jazz" and pressed on me an EP of Sidney Bechet with Claude Luter's band, which I liked.  Being a rather academic boy, I looked for a book and unfortunately found Jazz by Rex Harris, who was a hard-line traditionalist who basically considered anything that didn't have a banjo in it to be too modern to be considered jazz. So I bought records by Humphrey Lyttelton, but also LPs of King Oliver, Morton and Armstrong. So I was cut off from most of jazz, not by date, but stylistically. And it wasn't just as a result of Harris' book. I remember borrowing this Hampton EP and thinking, "I just don't understand this music"(!)

lionel-hampton-big-band-flying-home-colu

But by the following year I'd heard Bird, Miles and Monk and had sufficient musical maturity to dig what they were doing and didn't look back. So, once again, it wasn't dates, but styles that mattered for me. Of course, all this took place against a background of the war between "traddies and modernists" that raged in British jazz circles in those days.

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I was in my teens and in college, so price was a big one.   Blue Notes in a cutout bin were a must buy then (early 70's), became more problematic as the UA era ended up as cutouts.  Connect the dots definitely.  I knew to spend a dollar on Jimmy Heath's 'The Gap Sealer' because Kenny Barron was on it.  Also had a kind, knowlegeable guide who worked as a sales guy at Franklin Music in Plymouth Meeting Mall.  He occasionally offered me full credit if I didn't like a record he strongly recommended if I was hesitant.  Those included John Handy Live at the Monterey Jazz Festival and Charles Tolliver Live at Slugs.  So I was buying Strata-East stuff my first year of collecting the music.    I also subscribed to Down Beat almost immediately, and paid attention to that.  I avoided "old fashioned" guys like Ellington, Basie, Brubeck, MJQ at first, to my loss.    Specially priced 2LP sets, such as the Miles Davis albums of that period, got preferential treatment in my budget.

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Just now, felser said:

I was in my teens and in college, so price was a big one.   Blue Notes in a cutout bin were a must buy then (early 70's), became more problematic as the UA era ended up as cutouts. 

Not just Blue Notes, but all the Liberty labels - Pacific Jazz particularly.

 

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Two price point decisions I remember: waiting for rainbow series Blue Notes to fall from $4 to $3, that worked out and I got what I wanted cheaply, and passing on an original of Sam Rivers Contours 'cause it was $15 and I thought it should've been $12, that was a bad one since I didn't get a copy til the Tone Poet at $35 (other than my home taped copy of the the library's copy).  I seem to remember bad buying choices better than good ones.

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7 minutes ago, danasgoodstuff said:

I seem to remember bad buying choices better than good ones.

I think I remember both equally ... very first Gene Harris was Blue Hour, purchased solely due to the presence of Stanley Turrentine, in St Louis, at a mall shop I'd never been in, either right before or right after seeing Working Girl in the mall theater.  Worst Gene Harris the mid-70s release with him surrounded by kids, that was at the aforementioned Papa Jazz, and my money was cheerfully refunded in store credit. :g

 

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I had bad first experiences. It took a while to unlearn stupid habits.

I spent a year or two as a teen buying jazz, just because I thought it was something I should do. I got shipwrecked on records like Kind of Blue and Blue Train, which I wasn't sure whether I liked (I do now, but they weren't great starting choices in retrospect). I was also overly led by "name" horn players: I bought a bunch of cheap reissues that had what I thought were A listers double billed, etc., which looking back on it were basically just cynically marketed outtake records that had the leads on only maximum one track each: landfill reissues from the height of the CD era. Nowadays I would know that a record named something like "Trane 'n' Diz!" is likely to be nonsense, but back then I didn't.

Then it just clicked for me when I bought My Favorite Things and A Love Supreme. These were records that sounded deep and discordant and resonated with me, at a point in time when I was around 75% hormone. I fell in love with Coltrane, at the same time as Elvin Jones and McCoy Tyner, and then began to understand that it wasn't just about who was the horn player, and I began to expand outwards from that point.

About a year after that I chanced upon a throwaway reference to an album called "Sound" by an artist I'd never heard even mentioned called Roscoe Mitchell. It had a cool looking cover. I managed to find the CD reissue in a shop later that day by chance and I bought it on a whim. That was really it for me.

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"I'd always meant to buy more jazz, but every time I went record shopping, there'd be something I wanted more," Bergkamp said. "Finally, after seeing the thing on PBS, I decided to commit to getting some. I went down to Tower [Records] to get a Miles Davis CD, but there were, like, dozens of them, not to mention all these 40-disc Complete Live At The Plugged Nickel—1965 box sets or whatever. I ended up buying an Ornette Coleman CD, since I knew he's supposed to be pretty important, but that ended up being a total mistake. So a few days later, I went back for the Burns box."

https://www.theonion.com/five-disc-jazz-anthology-still-unopened-1819566936

 

 

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I started in 1966, and my "connect the dots" was for the labels.

First Argo/Cadet, then Prestige, then Riverside, then Atlantic.

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I didn't start acquiring jazz LPs until I was at Tulane, but I did a lot of reading of liner notes and explored the record store just off campus, which had a pretty good selection of in print jazz, lots of Prestige, Columbia, Blue Note, etc. I frequently experimented by buying albums by sidemen featured on records I bought, though I got into Eric Dolphy before John Coltrane and Charles Mingus, likely caused by my fascination with Zappa's "Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbecue." When I was in grad school at Georgia, a used LP store opened that had a lot of promos dumped by radio stations or journalists and I snapped up a number of the Milestone and Prestige twofers that way. I avoided the post-Alfred Lion Blue Note material which didn't interest me, along with most of the watered down stuff that made up CTI, with a few exceptions. I developed a strong distaste for the Fender Rhodes, which sounded wimpy compared to a grand piano, so I was in little danger of buying any Bob James. When I started broadcasting in 1987 and writing in 1988, I snapped up lots of CDs at special media prices to fill holes in my collection. Once I grew to like an artist, I tended to search out nearly everything he or she recorded, I probably have one of the more extensive collections of Jaki Byard. I've long tended to avoid greatest hits or anthologies (though I ended up writing liner notes for more than a few), preferring to buy music in its original setting, though I do seek out reissues and boxed sets with bonus tracks. Maybe I will find time to listen to it all...

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I read a lot as a kid/tween/teen.  I lived in Brooklyn, and we always had the newspaper at home (New York Post and/or Daily News), and even tabloids then reviewed jazz shows, and there would be ads, so I would just absorb names.  I'd go to the library and read magazines; I'd buy Rolling Stone/Rock/Crawdaddy/Creem, and even these rock magazines would review jazz albums and have articles on artists.  I'd start to suss out which artists were important.  Price was very much an issue.  I bought the Columbia Mingus twofer "Better Get Hit In Your Soul" for $2.99; wasn't sure I liked it, but I kept listening to it.  I got Coltrane's "Selflessness Featuring My Favorite Things" from the Record Club of America; loved My Favorite Things, hated Selflessness.  I'd hit every cutout bin around, buying not just jazz, but folk, rock, blues...anything interesting.  I was sometimes disappointed, sometimes not.  I still liked rock more, but that was also a time of great creativity in the rock world.

The funny thing about all that reading is that I also read a lot about classical: concerts, record reviews, artists.  It described a world even more alien than jazz: the repertoire, the milieu, and of course the high prices.  I found some Command LPs in the cutout bins, and ordered some from the Musical Heritage Society, but that was about it for a very long time.  Now I buy all those "bricks" of artists such as Szell, Horowitz, Gould, Stern, and so many more at rock bottom prices.  It took a while, but I'm finally there.

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15 minutes ago, GA Russell said:

I started in 1966, and my "connect the dots" was for the labels.

First Argo/Cadet, then Prestige, then Riverside, then Atlantic.

I remember buying Bean Bags on Atlantic early on in my jazz explorations.

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Sounds like all you guys had access to decent record stores at the time you started getting into jazz. Lucky people! I more or less bought what was there because it WAS there.

The upside of that, I guess, was that when I finally got to an area where I could play connect the dots with any regularity, there were already a fair number of dots already. But before then...if it looked like jazz (or some kind of "jazz rock") and it was cheap, hey, it followed me home, honest, including that Ars Nova record that to this day I still don't see what the fuss was about. But also that 99 cent Joe Dailey Trio record, and not until Hal Russell were there dots to connect there!

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14 minutes ago, JSngry said:

including that Ars Nova record that to this day I still don't see what the fuss was about. 

Huge waste of Jimmy Owen's.  And he seemed to know it, was gone by the time they recorded their obscure second album.  I actually like them both, but that's more time/place/style rather than anything specific to those albums.

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43 minutes ago, JSngry said:

Sounds like all you guys had access to decent record stores at the time you started getting into jazz. Lucky people! I more or less bought what was there because it WAS there.

Peaches was around by the time I started buying jazz in the mid/late 70s.

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Record Museum used to get Atlantic and Prestige and ECM promos in the 70's. sold them for $2.49, buy 3 get one free.  That even included double albums.

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I was lucky to have a few screening resources before I plunked down my allowance for records. One was Ed Beach on WRVR. This was when NY was actually the center of culture, and not whatever the hell it is now. Ed Beach would play whom HE considered to be the most important musicians of jazz, and what HE considered to be their most important work, chronologically through their whole career, and you didn't argue with Ed Beach, because he was Ed Beach. So I'd tape his shows with our Sound On Sound reel-to reel recorder, and decide if I liked it. When some corporate idiots took over RVR, and started to tell him what to play, poof!- he was gone in a second.

Then there was the library, which I had no use for whatsoever until I got interested in jazz. I don't know who got their records for them, but they seemed to have everything. Again, I hooked up the phono to the Sony, and taped whatever I liked.

When those two sources were exhausted, I was driven to Times Square Store, the big dept. store on Lawnguyland. I remember buying all my Larry Coryell records there, until one day this weird looking guy with a long beard who worked there heard me and my friend talking about jazz, and he said "Psss...you're not gonna find anything good at this place, let me turn you on to this guy in Malverne who's got a basement full of the real sh-t."

He turned out to be talking about the guy known as The Record Hunter, and we'd get our parents to drive us out there, and wait for us until we bought what we wanted. He was one of those guys that advertised in DB, saying he had RARE RECORDS, and sure enough, it was all down there in his basement. He had the Tal Farlow record that I had to have, but I couldn't believe it when he said it was $40!!!!  This was the early 70s, and I was still in HS. He wouldn't take a penny less, no matter how much I begged him to go down. It wiped me out, but I bought it. I think he felt sorry for me then, because he got his son to tape all his TF records for $5 a reel of tape.

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5 hours ago, GA Russell said:

I started in 1966, and my "connect the dots" was for the labels.

First Argo/Cadet, then Prestige, then Riverside, then Atlantic.

That’s an interesting order. How did that occur?

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Interesting that you mentioned "Time Out". 

When I was just starting to listen to jazz in the mid 70´s, my heroes were Mingus and Miles, and through them I got to Bird Diz Bud and so on, and also through Mingus to Ornette Coleman and so on. Through "electric" Miles also to that kind of early 70´s rock jazz. 

I also had a kind of names and asked someone from my class, if he knows some of them or can recommand something to me.

I had written the name "Dave Brubeck" on that list and he shouted with enthusiasm "You must get into that, he is just fantastic!". So I thought if Miles and Mingus and Bird and Ornette are "fantastic", how must be this if this guy says it is so great. And then I heard that Take Five and Blue Rondo and something like "Unsquare Dance" and it didn´t mean nothing to me. I couldn´t get that deep love for music I got from let´s say Mingus. Just impossible for me. 

I later heard some earlier stuff on Bellaphone, it must have been some live performance, it was swinging but I couldn´t stand the way Brubeck hammered on that piano, I was used to Bud, Monk, McCoy, Herbie.

So it was the wrong start for me with Brubeck. There was no vibrations for me and later I found out that the Brubeck fans is a different category of audience ......
In general, I don´t have much love for so called "West Coast" from the 50´s, though I love much later Chet Baker and Gerry Mulligan. 
CTI the same on me. The only two I have is Mulligan/Baker 1974 at Carnegie Hall. For the big sound of Ron Carter on  bass. 
ECM also missing in my collection with the exception of "Lookout Farm and "Drum Ode". And I had to laugh when I read Lieb´s autobio and he said that Manfred Eicher didn´t like drum ode, it was not what he liked for his label.....so....naturally I like Drum Ode since it is not typical "ECM"....

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11 hours ago, BillF said:

In 1957 when I was 17 and still at school I was buying 78s of Bill Haley and his Comets. An older boy, who must have been all of 18(!) took me aside and said, "You shouldn't be wasting your time with this stuff - you should be listening to jazz" and pressed on me an EP of Sidney Bechet with Claude Luter's band, which I liked.  Being a rather academic boy, I looked for a book and unfortunately found Jazz by Rex Harris, who was a hard-line traditionalist who basically considered anything that didn't have a banjo in it to be too modern to be considered jazz. So I bought records by Humphrey Lyttelton, but also LPs of King Oliver, Morton and Armstrong. So I was cut off from most of jazz, not by date, but stylistically. And it wasn't just as a result of Harris' book. I remember borrowing this Hampton EP and thinking, "I just don't understand this music"(!)

lionel-hampton-big-band-flying-home-colu

But by the following year I'd heard Bird, Miles and Monk and had sufficient musical maturity to dig what they were doing and didn't look back. So, once again, it wasn't dates, but styles that mattered for me. Of course, all this took place against a background of the war between "traddies and modernists" that raged in British jazz circles in those days.

Reading other contributions here, I realise my experience in 1957-58 was untypical as it predated the mass emergence of the 12" vinyl album. But I did see something of the later era when from 1970 I started teaching (at the age of 30) in an art college and had 17-year-old students who were avid collectors of rock albums. Jazz was very out of favour with them - they openly mocked my Love Supreme album! So I was understandably puzzled when one of them rushed in raving about Miles Davis, of all people! He'd just bought an album that looked more like one of theirs than one of mine. It was Bitches Brew.

Speaks volumes!

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