Here at Raggy Waltz headquarters, we love creating new blog series. Enter this new series, entitled ‘Record Storing’. “What’s it about, and what the heck is ‘record storing’?” you ask? Good question. Quite simply, it’s about me going to record stores, the subsequent albums I take home, and my thought process that takes place between those two events. So here’s to a new series!
The Record Store
- Vertical House Records
- Huntsville, Alabama
The Treasures Tracked
Why I Grabbed ‘Em
I’ve been regularly stopping by my favorite record store, Huntsville’s Vertical House Records, almost every week since 2019 began. I wasn’t expecting much new stuff when I went Friday afternoon. That’s what I get for expecting. There were quite a few new interesting albums that I stumbled upon, and after much thought and consternation I narrowed them down to these eight. Nothing crazy, just intriguing and promising stuff.
Gone Garner Gonest // Erroll Garner
(Columbia CL 617)
I grabbed this one mainly because this album has one of my favorite jazz standards, “Lullaby In Rhythm”. That tune was apparently really popular in the 1940’s and ’50’s before dying out in the ensuing years. You don’t hear it often these days. Another reason why I took this album home is because you can’t have too much Erroll Garner in your life. And the cover art is pretty cool. Spinning the record upon arriving home, I was dismayed to discover that, despite it’s visually clean surfaces, it was laden with snaps, crackles, and groove wear. Oh well. The music itself is pretty groovy, which makes up for it. Not really, but I’ll tell myself that.
Piano Magic // Bobby Troup
(Premier PM 2003)
The album art grabbed my attention here. It’s a rather flattering painting of Mr. Troup, who I didn’t know even played the piano. I know him as the host of an old television show from the 1950’s that (no surprise) was about jazz and featured name jazz acts of the day. I also knew him as 1.) the guy I saw acting on an episode of Perry Mason (with Barney Kessel!) and 2.) the lucky dude who was married to singer/actress Julie London. From the two seconds of the record that I heard in the store when I played it on the owner’s turntable, I think I’m going to dig it. The band backing him has a few big names in West Coast jazz circles, like Stu Williamson, Bob Enevoldsen, and Mel Lewis.
Spring Sequence // Ralph Burns & His Ensemble
I had never heard of Ralph Burns or his ensemble before, but the Jazztone label rung a far-off bell and the hideous cover art warranted a closer investigation. Whenever I encounter an interesting album by someone I’m not familiar with, I pull out my phone and Google it and see what Allmusic says. The worse the rating, the more intrigued I am, conditionally speaking. I was surprised to see a 9/10 rating from no other than Scott Yanow, complete with a glowing review. The construction of the album jacket (European with its pliable paper cover) and the inclusion of Jimmy Raney on guitar further piqued my interest, so home it went. This album has the potential to be a diamond in the rough…
Jazz For The Carriage Trade // George Wallington Quintet with Phil Woods & Donald Byrd
Yeah, it’s a “low-down, no-good” Original Jazz Classics reissue of a classic Prestige album, but let’s be honest. Will I ever be able to afford an original in good shape? Probably not. So a reissue it’ll have to be for now. I first heard of this album through a Paul Desmond blindfold test for Downbeat Magazine he did in 1956. He gave a song from the album (“Together We Wail”) four stars, singling out the counterpoint between Phil Woods’ alto and Donald Byrd’s trumpet as particularly excellent. Seeing it at the record store, I had to grab it. If it’s good enough for Paul Desmond, it’s good enough for me.
The Spoiler // Stanley Turrentine
(Blue Note BST 84256)
Aside from the clown that completely defaced (literally) the cover and labels of this album, the record looked promising. I’m not the biggest fan of Mr. Turrentine, admittedly, but his supporting cast (Blue Mitchell, Pepper Adams, etc.) looked good. Despite the rather negative Allmusic review, I chanced it. It’s an early Liberty stereo, still mastered by RVG. A quick play-thru at home revealed a record with some surface noise and groove wear, but nothing super noticeable or overpowering to the listening experience. The music was better than I expected. Score.
Imported From Europe // Stan Getz
(Verve MG V-8331)
Still in it’s shrinkwrap, an early Verve album, and a Stan Getz album I wasn’t familiar with, taking this album home was easy. The record store owner priced it and placed it next to me while I explored the records, so I honestly couldn’t not take it. It’s one of the albums Getz made while on timeout in Europe during the late 1950’s. The album art is cheesy but it made me give it a second look, so I guess it worked. Playing it at home, I was pleasantly surprised at how clean and crisp it sounded. It was like brand new. More score.
Riverside Modern Jazz Sampler // Various Artists
The fact that it was a sampler piqued my interest. There’s a lot of fluff jazz on here considering who was on Riverside’s roster in 1955 and ’56. Actually, now that I think about it, there weren’t THAT many heavy hitters recording for Riverside that early in the game, were there? ANYhow, samplers can be an interesting ride, so for $8 I figured why not. There’s a few gems, as well as a few lumps of coal. It is a sampler, after all.
Waltz For Debby // Bill Evans
Another reissue of an album I won’t be owning in its original form anytime soon. It was sealed when I found it at the record store, which, combined with the sticker proclaiming it was a limited edition colored record, gave me pause. At first I recoiled, thinking myself above some fancy ‘limited edition’ colored vinyl (they’re always limited edition and always on some psychedelic color) reissue aimed at a modern-day hipster. I continued to think about it though. I love Bill Evans, and I love his material from the Village Vanguard. What’s the harm in grabbing a 2018 reissue, especially if it’s got some cool gimmick to it like lavender vinyl? So if any of you ever come to my place and see a purple Bill Evans record, you’ll know why. Feel free to judge.
I also got this groovy bag, free for when you spend a certain amount of money at his store. I didn’t know that was a thing, so that was a pleasant surprise. More reasons to support your local record store!