Monday, August 05, 2019

When Will I Get to Play All Those Records?

Okay, maybe no one else notices but it's gotten ridiculous in terms of how long it's been since I posted here. A month?! Jiminy crap. Not a day goes by when I don't think about an album I'd like to write about or a show that I went to, or an article that I wrote about. And I just joined the Jazz Journalists Association at long last too. What kind of flake am I?

A busy flake, let's just say.

Since the last post, I finished a story on Joe Fiedler, the Pittsburgh native and Taylor Allderdice grad (who, it turns out, was there as a senior when I was a freshman) who is now a musical director on Sesame Street. Earlier this year he released an album called Open Sesame, interpreting some prime (read: from the '70s) tunes from Sesame Street in a jazz quartet/quintet. I listened to that on the way up to Winter Jazz Fest and knew I had to write something about him. I filed the piece with JazzTimes and I think it might be going in their October issue.

I also started working on a piece about flutist Nicole Mitchell who is now the head of Jazz Department at the University of Pittsburgh. Several interviews have been conducted on that subject and I have to start transcribing and getting my thinking cap on soon as to how the piece will go. That's also going in JazzTimes, in their education issue.

Throughout that time, I still wrote a couple stories for Pittsburgh Current on local folks like Weird Paul and Madame Dolores (aka Christiane D). I missed the Deutschtown Music Festival because of work, since I close at work all the time. But the crowds sounded pretty huge at that event so maybe it was just as well.

But there was another big thing that happened in July. One that I've been rather guarded about, at least at first. I bought a record collection. A fairly sizable one of quality stuff too. It's something I always wanted to do but never really had the opportunity. It belonged to a guy who was a colleague of a friend of mine. They were both lawyers and my friend was the lawyer for this guy's estate. (He passed away sometime last year, I think.) A lot of the things in the collection look like they might have been played once or twice and then shelved, especially the singles, which almost all date back the first wave of punk rock. They don't have the early British punk stuff (Pistols, Clash, Damned) but there is a lot of weird New York stuff and some other things from the Pacific Northwest that are only remarkable in my mind because they include a guy who went on to play in the SF jazz group Splatter Trio.

When I first saw the collection I didn't take the time to look through everything. There were certain things that sealed the deal for me: Impulse Records spines, some Blue Note stuff ('70s pressings), prog rock, Mosaic boxes, a single by Pittsburgh's the Five. So when I got it home, I was still making new discoveries a few days, and sometimes a week, later.

Why be so secretive about this, one might ask. It's quite the coup. The answer to that is twofold. For one thing, the paranoid part of me knows that records can make people crazy. Crazy driven by desire. The desire to want some of the action.

But the other thing is, I bought this collection with the idea of reselling a lot of that. I have been selling records off and on for over a dozen years now. The earliest posts here chronicle trips to estate sales and some of the things I picked up. I rarely posted about reselling things because I didn't want to look like a big shot and I didn't want to get on the bad side of local used store people. Or people who like to have some of the things I sold.

As a record buyer, I have mixed feelings about reselling too. I don't like the way the price of used things has skyrocketed in the last 15 years either. I don't want to be part of the problem. I'm not going to rationalize my selling by saying, it's okay because it's me, a nice guy trying to supplement my family's income, rather than some guy who travels across the country paying a dime a dozen  for records owned by widows and selling them for obscene prices.

Which leaves me........ in the middle, I guess. I am a Libra, after all. That's when the hording feeling comes in. Or wait - it's not hoarding if I think that I'm holding onto them as a reference that I might need sometime when I'm writing an article and need to hear Willem Breuker (yes, one of his albums is in the collection). And maybe I'll need to someday figure out if my CD of Cecil Taylor's Unit Structures sounds better than the '70s vinyl pressing. Same goes for Mingus Plays Piano. That reissue I bought sounds nice, but that Impulse label sure looks good. And all those Henry Cow records? Maybe I should see if I do really like them.

But what to listen to now?  Something from the collection? Maybe something I want to blog about. But what? Then the frustration sets in.

So that's why I haven't blogged in a while. Hopefully this post will get me back in gear.

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