While I’ve been a jazz fan since around 4th grade and a voracious consumer of jazz on CD and even cassette tape (yes, young people do in fact know what those things are), I recently began collecting jazz vinyl in earnest about 3 years ago. A hipster/hippie friend of mine told me about a record shop in town, and after my first visit, I was impressed, but not 100% sold. It was my quest to track down rare Dave Brubeck Quartet albums and tracks that made me give vinyl another chance. I didn’t have a record player of my own, but I bought records anyway, playing them on my mother’s turntable. In the ensuing years, between eBay, my grandpa, and record shops, I’ve amassed a moderate library of vinyl.
It’s surprisingly calming to just look at all the albums, to hold them, to even smell them, and above all to play them. In this day of digital music and streaming, it’s satisfying and fulfilling to own music in its original physical form, complete with the liner notes and cover art. Particularly in the case of jazz, while much of jazz has made the transition from vinyl to CD to the mp3 and streaming world, a large portion of the music was left behind on old records and is only available on that format. And then there’s the all-important liner notes. Like sports fans with team rosters, jazz fans take meticulous care to keep track of a band’s personnel and the dates the album was recorded, and liner notes supply this and more. It was for this reason that I began collected jazz on vinyl. iTunes is convenient, but I like to know who’s playing what, and everything isn’t available on iTunes. So, in addition to sharing my love of Paul Desmond and Dave Brubeck, I’m starting a series of posts about jazz vinyl collecting, which mostly means writing about different albums in my library.
While there are numerous great sites and blogs devoted to much of the same thing, I’ve noticed that many of the albums that I’ve collected and buy don’t seem too popular with many of these folks. I’m not mad about it. Blue Note albums are THE thing, as well as your standard list of jazz greats, which I understand. Maybe because I grew up in California, or I’m such a huge fan of Paul Desmond and the Dave Brubeck Quartet (or maybe it’s a hybrid of both), I really dig West Coast ‘cool’ jazz from the 1950’s and early 60’s. I love all types of jazz, and I believe the best of jazz was made and recorded in the ‘Golden Age’ of jazz, which, to me, was the years from 1950-1965, with outliers at both ends of the spectrum.
As a black guy, I’ve committed two ‘sins’. Firstly, I actually like West Coast cool jazz, which was blasphemy 50 years ago, and probably still is in certain circles. Hard bop and other jazz from the eastern United States (i.e. New York) was the end-all; cool jazz was looked down on as too white, too square, too not jazz. As a result, my second sin is that I happen to overwhelmingly like jazz made by white guys. Indeed, most of my library is made up of white jazz musicians. Perhaps in another post, I’ll delve into that further… If it was 1957, I’d be disowned and called a heretic.
Anyhow, because of my love for this body of music, love of vinyl, and a lack of representation, here’s to the adventures of a college student collecting jazz vinyl!