Monday, May 28, 2007

The first big vinyl hunt of '07

Playing right now: Miroslav Vitous - Universal Syncopations II (upcoming CD on ECM)

This story happened about two months ago, but it was the kind of adventure for which this blog was created, so better late than never....

I was looking around on Craig's List and saw a posting for jazz and soul albums that I guy in Pittsburgh was selling. Ha cha, I thought, that's for me. I've never taken action on a Craig's List posting before but figured there was gold in them hills, so now was the time. It was about 11:30 on a weekday morning when I called and spoke to the seller's mother, who said the guy was still in bed. It was hard to tell from her voice how old she was or how old the guy might be. Between that call and a callback a few minutes later, we made arrangements for me to come and check them out the next morning. I had to work at 2, so 11 would be a good time to stop by.

When I went into work that afternoon, I mentioned my upcoming journey to a friend of mine who's as fanatical about vinyl as me. I asked if he wanted to come along and he said sure. The ad had mentioned something like "rare soul and jazz" and "make a deal for anyone buying a lot" so I figured this wasn't going to be a case of finding Hank Mobley Blue Notes or original Coltrane Impulse albums for a buck a piece. He probably wanted to sell things for what they're worth. My friend and I both decided we'd limit ourselves to $50 so we wouldn't go crazy.

The next morning we were greeted by a guy who didn't look a day older than 25. He took us up to his bedroom and let us run wild through the shelves of vinyl that he had. And it was insane. Doubles of original James Brown albums on King. Almost all of the Pharoah Sanders albums on Impulse. The Jazz Messengers (WITH MOBLEY!) on Blue Note, with the West 63rd Street address on the label. The Silhouettes album on Segue. I think there was some Nathan Davis on Segue too. This kid knew his stuff. I meticulously pulled bunches off of the shelves and looked at covers while my accomplice just made a big stack of stuff that looked interesting to him.

After about an hour we reached the saturation point. Neither of us wanted to look at anything else. Between the two of us, we scoured the shelves anyhow. There was an additional rack of psych and rock stuff which included Love's first and Forever Changes, but nothing I wanted.

I kept telling myself to keep a poker face when it came time to figure out a price. I had grabbed $70 thinking that the extra $20 might give me a little bit of leverage, to perhaps talk him down to $50 and get a better deal with the extra cash that I forgot I had.

Well, that mindset changed when he told my friend that his stack, about 70 albums high, would go for $300, to which my friend didn't bat an eye. Damn, brother, you're better at this than I am!

My stack was $150, or $100 without the Silhouettes album. I finally paired it down to $70 and got the following:

The West Coast Pop Arts Experimental Band - s/t
Jackie McLean Plays Fat Jazz (on Jubilee)
Dizzy Reece - Possession, Exorcism, Peace (a '70s album by the Jamaican-born trumpeter who did some albums on Blue Note during the '50s; unfortunately this isn't very good)
Bill Evans - Further Conversations With Myself (yellow label promo, mono)
Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers - Jazz Cornver of the World Vol. 1 (see reference above)
Pharoah Sanders - Karma (my friend was cool enough to let me have this one, since I've wanted it for a while)
Joe Henderson - In 'n Out ('70s Blue Note reissue, still haven't played it yet)

Seemed like a good take: $10 per album, some of which were worth more than that, some less.

Oh and my friend? He bought $50 worth of his pile that day and went back the next day for the rest. Crazy, huh? He brought another co-worker who is even more into collecting than us.

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