I should know better than to spend my lunch hour surfing Craig's List, punching in keywords like "hound dog" and "alto saxophone." That's how I ended up bringing home a used Great Pyrenees dog (though I already had one in perfectly good working order) and a used alto sax (that I don't even know how to play).
That's also how I ended up carting home three grocery bags full of jazz records last weekend. How did that happen?
...because the seller wrote something in his post about "thousands of albums." Saying that to a music junkie is like standing outside a Weight Watchers meeting handing out coupons for hot fudge sundaes. There's no way to resist the temptation. When I learned he lived just eight minutes up the road, I was at his house faster than a Buddy Rich solo.
Alas, on his dining room table sat a half dozen gigantic plastic tubs of records. (Amid glorious smell of musty records, I faintly detected the slightest whiff of hot fudge.) Much of what he had was, in fact, easy listening but among the endless supply of Vikki Carr and Roger Whittaker records, I managed to fill a box with a hundred or so jazz gems (plus a gorgeous nine volume Franklin Mint set that traces the full history of the genre).
"I'll give you a hundred bucks for this box," I said, bracing myself for the inevitable round of negotiation.
"I was thinking 200," he replied quietly, his long history as a disc jockey clearly informing his reply.
"Hmm," I thought, calculating that my offer was roughly in the neighborhood of 50 cents per record. "Where should I go from here?"
I inched my way toward 75 cents per record but he was too savvy and I wasn't that committed to bringing home a bunch of Nat King Cole releases on Pickwick. Peeling the wheat from the chaff, I narrowed my wish list knowing I could take home the pick of the litter for around a buck a disc. Forty five minutes later, I walked out with 32 albums plus the Franklin Mint set for $82.
He offered to take me over to his shop to poke through his rock and roll records but, at that point, I figured I'd spent enough money. Even a junkie will eat a small hot fudge sundae sometimes. (Tune in next week to find out what I bought...).
Neither the Franklin Mint set or the other 32 adopted babies will ever see the inside of my house. By decree of my wife, who needs storage room for a pair of Pyrenees and a used saxophone, all records and CDs are banished to the studio I built in my barn a few years ago. Music listening in the house -- save for the new releases I receive -- is 100% internet radio.
Wait! That sounds like a great subject for an About.com article: 6 Great Places To Hear Jazz Online. Check it out and definitely hit me with a comment if you know of other good listening spots.
HEAD ON OUT
You might have noticed under our "Must Reads" column I've included a link to our Jazz Festival Guide. This is a brand new page that replaces our old, outdated guide. Even though high season for jazz festivals -- May, June and most of July -- is past us, there are still a few quality festivals still to come this summer in Chicago, San Jose and Telluride. Pack up the Pyrenees and that used saxophone and head on out to hear some live music.
On the agenda for next week: a review of the new Yellowjackets album, a survey of some re-releases Riverside has dropped in celebration of their 60th anniversary and, if I can figure it out, I'll show off some of the photos I took of Esperanza Spalding last winter when she was in the Portland area.
In the meantime, stay cool you jazzin' fool.
Photo: My beloved Great Pyrenees, Amie. Photographed by Richard Avedon. (Just kidding...)