2013: My Year In Music

I actually hate the term “music collecting” because it doesn’t at all describe what I do. I listen to music. And I usually keep it around. There is actually a difference. I know far too many people who have gone completely off the rails and actually “collect” music, keeping it (at worst) shrink-wrapped or (at best) untouched by anyone but themselves. They receive a new CD or LP, look at it, feel happy and then shelve it away untouched or, perhaps, they delicately remove it from its sleeve, carefully place it into a selected CD drive, rip it to their hard drives as accurately as possible and then shelve it away to be gloated over a few times per decade. I sometimes wonder if they light candles while they’re at it.

That’s not what I do. I find it, I get it, I order it and then I listen to it. Many times. I don’t even handle my CDs with particular care either. In my experience, no matter what people like to scream and yell about, the medium can take quite a bit of abuse and if you handle a CD in a normal fashion, which is what I do, they’ll last until the bits and bytes rot. I don’t care about digipaks perhaps scratching the CD playing surface because the CDs are unprotected and I certainly don’t care about leaving one out over night. I’ve been buying CDs since the dawn of the CD age and I have yet to find one in my collection that has gone bad because of faulty handling or storing. Some people are just too damn overprotective.

So, if you look closely at the featured image for this post above, which you should as I spent quite a bit of time on putting it together, you can see everything I bought in 2013, most of which I intend to keep.

“Everything” is a relative term here because I do not keep track of what I bought, yet. This latter aspect has led to some purchases that were embarrassing, simply because when I got home I found out that I already had that release at least once, but usually I have a pretty good grip on things (age not withstanding). The only problem I am constantly fighting with is that I have too much to properly catalog it (meaning that until today, I have been far too lazy to do the work) and therefore often find myself standing in front of a rare CD release in some totally remote second-hand shop without knowing if I actually bought it since committing it to somewhat faulty memory (that would be the “BUY! NOW!” category in my head that has limited storage capacity).

Usually, once a month or once every two months, I mosey on over to the CD stand next to my stereo, take all the new additions out (usually 10 or more CDs) and take a photo of the lot. Then I shelve the music. For a person like me who spends a lot of time in front of a PC, that’s a pretty safe method of finding (bought) music again. I fire up Picasa (yes, I’m a cheapskate), go through the “music” folder with photos of 10, 20 or more CDs each and know right away what my recent purchases were and what to listen to. Life is simple like that.

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Instead of chewing through each and every one of the CDs, boxed sets or whatever randomly, I thought I’d give you, dear reader, a rundown according to genre. This, of course, according to my own shelving system that lobs just about everything into some very basic categories that make sense to me (only). So, for example, anything that is not jazz, classical, fusion or Danish pop music will end up in the “Pop and Rock” category, well knowing that jazz and even classical music used to be the “pop” of the day. So, blues, heavy metal, songwriters and all the rest will end up in that single category. In short, if I can find it, I am happy, and if others can’t find it in my house, I don’t care.

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My year in music was a totally eclectic one, like all the previous ones. Eclecticism is usually born out of opportunity, meaning that when I am in some shop or surfing around the Net for what’s new, I pick up what has tickled my fancy for whatever reason and, especially, what has been discounted. I often wait years to pick something up which I think might still be around then. I have been burned several times, missing out on rare items that disappeared faster than you can say “Gone!”, but there’s always something else of interest, especially since 2012 and 2013 have shown that formerly elusive or extremely costly (re)issues were and are being repackaged in cheapo versions for a steal.

That old saying of “All Good Things Come to Those Who Wait” has been a more than apt motto for the past two or three years. It is simply amazing to see how much excellent music was thrown onto the market at greatly reduced cost in an attempt of the labels to save their market position. I don’t know how long they’ll keep at it, with downloads on the rise (in many countries) and the labels finally adapting their business models to the 21st century, but with LP sales on the rise again as well, at least in my country, I hope the CD will also be around long enough as a medium for me to grab the music I like. Then the labels can go belly up for all I care.

Pop & Rock

The Whitesnake and Judas Priest boxed sets were a must. Whitesnake’s “Box ‘O’ Snakes” (2011) suddenly appeared as a “Little Box ‘O’ Snakes” in 2013 for a fraction of the cost, dropping extra material that I didn’t need or want to concentrate on a fabulous Whitesnake without the spandex pants and 80s hairdos, and the Judas Priest “Complete Albums Collection” became so damn cheap that I decided to ignore all the warnings about the totally crappy mastering and buy into it, well knowing that the chance of getting decent remasters is about as certain as hell freezing over. Speaking of that, the Eagle’s “Studio Albums 1972-1979” was an impulse purchase because I could get some complete albums I didn’t have yet (for less than what those single albums would have cost me). In the end, it didn’t matter hat Rhino screwed this one up (again) and included the non-remastered “The Long Run” (a fact, that most collectors got palpitations from); I bought it anyway. And speaking of screwing things up, the “ZZ Top: Studio albums 1970-1990” had even graver issues (reversed channels on the first album plus some ‘loudness wars’ victims), but I didn’t care. I just wanted those albums and, to be quite honest, I’ve been totally into that set despite its detractors. Still, it is mind boggling how bad the quality control departments have become nowadays; there is hardly any reissue project that doesn’t have faults, from wrong covers to misspelled words, from incorrect liner notes to incorrect song versions, etc. Alas, music has become a product, often sold like cheap processed food.

A 2013 highlight was getting the “Pink Floyd – Discovery” boxed set from 2011 at a laughable price, accidentally stumbling across one of those “discounted for the next 60 minutes” mails at midnight by a local retailer and jumping on the offer within 30 to 60 seconds. I needed 30-60 seconds because I had two of the remastered luxury editions already and needed to check what getting the rest would have cost me. Yeah, a multiple amount, so I clicked that ever-present “Purchase Now” button. I sure am glad I was still awake at midnight that day.

The one boxed set I really wanted to have (and it’s on the featured image above), Amazon.co.uk never delivered. For me, personally, the “Frantic Four” Status Quo reunion was THE event of the year and I wanted that complete set of many of their live gigs. I pre-ordered it and started tracking it and then it got stuck and was delivered to an Amazon.de storage facility up north. I would have believed Amazon’s totally ridiculous service messages had I not read extensively beforehand and known that (hey, there’s a pattern here) the label had screwed this one up. The CDs were OK, but the DVDs were faulty (many of them had a blue image and skipped all over the place). They simply pulled the whole set off the market and I got a mail saying that it got damaged en route. Yeah, right. Asshats. Today it costs an arm and a leg if you can still find a copy.

The “Crosby Stills & Nash: CSN” boxed set (really a 4-CD compilation and a straight budget reissue of the 1991 boxed set which went out of print in 2011) was probably the biggest surprise of the year. I picked this up at less than 5 Euro, simply because it cost less than 5 Euro, and then spent several days – and then weeks – with it. I had never warmed to Crosby Stills & Nash (+Young) in the past, but this set taught me that I had been wrong. There is a lot of excellent material on here, great lyrics and a great booklet that made me laugh out loud many a time.

10cc suddenly popped up on my radar again with all of two boxed sets, “Tenology” (2013) and “Classic Album Selection” (2012), which contains “The Original Soundtrack” (1975), “How Dare You!” (1975), “Deceptive Bends” (1977), “Bloody Tourists” (1978) and the double-live “Live and Let Live” (1977), and after much deliberation and reading, I opted for the latter (much cheaper) one. The reason is simple: Some of my favorite tracks of theirs I have been listening to over and over again since they were released, a lot of the other material I have never really warmed to all that much. So, buying into this particular set I saw as a chance to let the music grow on me, perhaps to buy into a more extensive set in the future. “Tenology”, by the way, is out of print now and goes for more than $300 on Amazon.com at the moment, proving again that marketplace dealers are true rip-off artists.

In 2012, Henrik Freischlader, my favorite German blues-rock guitarist, made his fans happy once again by releasing a 4-CD live set for – at least when I bought it in 2013 – roughly the price of a single CD. While I was at it, I filled a gap in my collection by buying his “Still Frame Replay” studio album, which is quite a bit more rock oriented, and the collaboration with friends of his, “5 in the Kitchen” (2008), was added simply because it is a fabulous release, harking back to analog recording times, committed to tape in a recluse they spent a few days at. Originally released as an LP/CD set, I got hold of the CD without checking if it was a re-release or if someone had split it off from the set for sale. This has been one of the CDs in regular rotation since I got it in early 2013. Great sound (as always with Henrik) of a session along the lines of a small club gig without too much commercial appeal or overbearing ambition.

Breaking my usual (somewhat) discerning habits, I jumped on two releases that were one of the major discoveries for me this year, the Rival Sons’ “Pressure and Time” (2011) and “Head Down” (2012). Despite the crappy recording/mastering (both albums hardly have any dynamic range and can only be listened to at comparatively lower volume if you want to avoid splitting headaches), these two CDs have gotten the most airplay this year, bar none. The Rival Sons are lobbed into the “Classic Rock” basket (a term I absolutely hate: either it’s rock or it’s not) and critics have made out this or that in their music, from Led Zeppelin to whatever, but I just like what they play. As Whitesnake so aptly put it ages ago, this stuff “gets my motor running ready to go.” I don’t care what or who they were influenced by, I just like what I hear. Besides: who the hell hasn’t borrowed from what came before? Work has begun on their new album and I can’t wait to hear it.

The second discovery was Albert Cummings, a blues-rock guitarist who put a positive vibe into this household. Again, I don’t care if others have played this stuff before or that others have played it better, Cummings’ playing grips me in the right place. The relatively simple “Blues Makes Me Feel So Good” was probably the song of the year at my place. The live version from the aptly titled “Feels So Good” (2008) is equally exciting, especially when it segues into a great cover of Zep’s “Rock and Roll”. As is always the case, your mileage may vary.

Fleetwood Mac’s “Then Play On” (their 1969 debut on Reprise) was probably the reissue of the year as it finally doesn’t sound like it was recorded in a tin can anymore. If you like that recording, which some people don’t, buy this remaster! It’s the best available and I doubt there will ever be a better edition. With the tracks in the original U.K running order plus track segues, the first appearance of “One Sunny Day” and “Without You” on this album, new liner notes by David Fricke, four bonus tracks (parts I and II of “Oh Well,” “The Green Manalishi [With The Two Prong Crown]” and “World In Harmony,” which were originally released as singles), this is a stellar release of Danny Kirwan’s debut with the band. Highly recommended! Reissues don’t get much better than this!

Peter Frampton had moved off my radar more and more these past many years, but with the 2012 “FCA35” tour he jumped right back into my living room. Coming from the excellent live DVD/Bluray I had seen, I jumped on the 3-CD release chock-full of excellent live versions of not only “Frampton Comes Alive” performed in full but a ton of other material which shines in these live versions (Frampton even whips out his old guitar again which had been lost for ages). I was surprised how good this material sounds, the band is just tight and you can (see and) hear how much fun they are all having. Excellent stuff and highly recommended for those who got off on FCA way back when in the 70s.

A lot has been written about the Beatles “Live at the BBC”, so I will refrain here. I have always loved the Beatles and like to listen to anything they ever put out. I bought the “Collection”, meaning both BBC 2CD collections in a slipcase, and it’s just fun to hear those broadcasts again, raw and raunchy the way they first hit the airwaves. Plus chatter. Plus jibes. Plus everything. The sound quality really isn’t anything to write home about but that is no surprise considering the source material. Still, in the remastering process they made the best of  it. Lots of customers complained about the slipcased “Collection” costing up to $4 more than the separate editions, but mine was cheaper. It just shows that too many people have first world problems.

To complete my run of Stevie Ray Vaughan releases, I doubled-up on the original album I already had by buying the relatively recent “Couldn’t Stand the Weather (Legacy Edition)” when it dropped in price. It contains an expanded remastered (a bit heavy on the bass) edition of the original album plus a live recording of Vaughan & Double Trouble’s 1984 performance at the Spectrum in Montreal (the sound here is a bit lackluster, which was to be expected) and a 24-page booklet with commentary by Andy Aledort and Vaughan’s former band mates, Chris Layton and Tommy Shannon (Double Trouble). Great stuff, but I often find myself wondering what will be written about Vaughan 20 or 30 years down the road. Sometimes I think the hyperbole surrounding his material is just a bit over the top. Innovative? – Certainly. Fun? – Yes! The best ever? – Certainly not.

The rest is quickly summarized. The Paula Morelenbaum releases with their “loungy” tone and the Embassador’s “Coptic Dub” I bought because I frequently listened to them online (especially when working) and thought I should go for a more permanent solution (and compensate the artists).

“Wings Over America” was a great reissue (and remastering job), but I noticed that this album from my youth (I was introduced to it in 9th grade, ages ago) just doesn’t capture me all that much anymore. It was still a great reissue and I think they did a good mastering job on it. Maybe I just overdosed on it way back when.

The Mick Hucknall, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and the Seeed (a great German band) were all bought because they cost next to nothing. All of them turned out not to be my cup of tea. I always liked the early Simply Red material and thought Hucknall might be reaching back to that time with “American Soul”, which he sort of did, but I now found out that I’m not really into Hucknall’s voice anymore. Shepherd’s “How I Go” had some very good tracks, but it was missing that consistency I loved in his earlier stuff I still listen to regularly. Seeed’s latest offering, simply entitled “Seeed”, had two or three good tracks but was largely a totally disappointing release. In fact, besides missing out on the Quo box (see above), this was the biggest bummer of the year. No running time to speak of, the two excellent tracks had already been circulated by the band for months before the album was released and then, unfortunately, the rest just didn’t live up to that early promise. Absolutely no comparison to their earlier stuff, all of which I have. I got that album cheap, but even that was too expensive.

Chickenfoot III (Chickenfoot II the band lost along the way, apparently, or …) was a decent release in that “genre” but I can’t shake the feeling that some of it seems almost “phoned in”. With all that talent in the band it should have been better. Still, I often gave it a spin to fire up the weekend. Great packaging, by the way, which also got them a Grammy (for exactly that only).

The Steve Perry remaster was bought to replace my old copy (unfortunately, as is always the case nowadays, the original was better) and the Christopher Cross I bought by accident (already had it).

Jazz

Looking back on my 2013 jazz purchases, I realize two things. Firstly, I didn’t buy all that much and secondly, almost everything I bought I ordered to either fill gaps in my collection with music I already knew or to double up on (=replace) music I already had.

But, the few new things first.

The biggest surprise of the Year was the release of “Verve: The Sound of America” (book) and the accompanying CD “Verve: The Sound of America – The Singles Collection”. At first, I had misjudged this project because I hadn’t known about the book and had thought this was just another one of those random compilations of songs I already had. As it turns out, and I will write a separate post on this “pair” soon, the book was great for Verve novices and the 5-CD singles collection was just a beauty in regard to music and (!) sound. The material presented here has hardly ever sounded this good and great care was taken in the remastering process.

The other two entirely “new” items I added to my jazz collection were a German jazz book (“Jazz in Deutschland“) and a 3-CD “Select” set by trusted label Mosaic.

The German book was OK and offers entries for most German jazz musicians. I don’t want to fault any author who puts so much work into a medium that the many thousands of Internet posts have made more or less obsolete, but I found too many errors and omissions for it to be overly reliable. A good starting point if you know nothing about German jazz, but only a fraction of it is really worthwhile for someone who knows his way around.

Mosaic’s “Onzy Matthews: Select” lived up to the usual Mosaic quality standards and has an excellent Michael Cuscuna essay to start things off. The big band and combo sessions presented here are just pure entertainment. I thought discs 1 and 2 were more consistent than disc 3, but that is the nature of these selects. Matthews has been relegated to that backroom of jazz history and, unfortunately, disappeared into relative obscurity. He wrote arrangements for Ray Charles, Lou Rawls, Esther Phillips, some for Ellington and others, and only produced 51 tracks as a leader, 29 of which had remained unreleased until Mosaic put them onto this “Select”. The tracks feature excellent LA jazz musicians from around 1963 to 1964, including Earl Anderza and Curtis Amy. The music is a bit of a wild mix from commercial numbers to bossa nova to hard bop, including three vocal tracks, but all of it is very enjoyable! As is the case with many of Mosaic’s limited reissues, it is out of print now.

The only two “big” boxed sets I bought this year both covered material I (mostly) had already.

I wasn’t going to buy the excellent and essential Dave Brubeck box, “The Dave Brubeck Quartet: The Columbia Studio Albums Collection 1955-1966”, but I did when it became so cheap that I simply could not resist and because it contained two records I didn’t have yet (or only as partial subsets of other reissues). I am not one of those collectors who re-buy material all the time, but with Dave Brubeck I’ve broken through that barrier. Many of his essential sessions I now have several times over. In 2014, I plan on culling the herd a bit, not only on the Brubeck shelf.

There has been lots of talk about the “Miles Davis Mono Albums” release, with people arguing that these sessions weren’t intended to be listened to in mono, but following the advice of people whose opinions I respect, I went for it at a pre-order price and have enjoyed it ever since. Yes, it’s an indulgence, listening to these albums as people did when they were first released, but these albums sound damn good in mono, especially because great care was taken when mastering them.

Oscar Peterson is one of the very few artists whose releases I collect, especially his 1950s and 1960s material, and I filled some gaps by purchasing three albums which I was missing in CD format, “Soul Espanol”, “Canadiana Suite” and “My Fair Lady … and Firorello”. These three purchases completed my full run of more or less essential Peterson Trio CDs from that time and, unless rare other stuff is released from that era, I’m done.

Paul Kuhn is a German pianist (and, unfortunately, singer) with a colorful history. A jazz musician at heart, for several decades he drifted into commercial stuff that made him lots of money but most jazz fans of his despised. He was an excellent pianist and these past two or three years I handpicked his (usually small combo and trio) jazz sessions that are uniformly excellent. The special edition release I bought this year, “Paul Kuhn – “Swing 85 – Birthday Box” (Limited Edition. 2 CDs and 1 DVD. March 2013), fits squarely into that category. The heart of this reissue was his 2011 “The L.A. Session”, recorded by Al Schmitt (7 Grammy Awards) and accompanied by two of my current favorites, John Clayton (bass) and Jeff Hamilton (drums). If bought separately, the “L.A. Session” would have been more expensive than this 2CD/DVD birthday release. When Paul Kuhn passed away a few months after I bought that package, it was a sad moment indeed. He had been around for more than 8 decades and he will be sorely missed. For me, it was like the end of an era that had started in the living room when I was 8 or 9 years old, repeatedly playing a favorite Paul Kuhn record of mine that my dad had slumbering away on some shelf.

One can never have enough Ruby Braff & Ellis Larkins music in the house, and because I didn’t (I only have two incomplete reissues of their 1950s Vanguard recordings produced by John Hammond), I bought the two “Berlin Calling” releases from 1995 and 1997 respectively while still available. At the time, both were said to have been amongst the best releases of those two years, and these two volumes of Irving Berlin material are, indeed, uniformly excellent and, as was to be expected, delicate. I have always loved Ruby Braff’s wonderfully smooth cornet tone and Ellis Larkins was always the best accompanist for him. Bucky Pizzarelli (guitar) joins them on some tunes and the music is the kind of stuff I put on when a quiet relaxing evening is needed. A good glass of wine, a candle or two, headphones … pure bliss with these two CDs.

The other CDs I bought to fill some gaps or replace inferior reissues.

I wrote about much of the material included on the 2007 Mosaic Select entitled “Al Cohn, Joe Newman, Freddie Green” in my post on “The Complete Joe Newman RCA-Victor Recordings (1955-1956)“, so I’ll refrain. This Mosaic Select has more material and sounds tons better. I jumped on it before it disappeared. You should have done the same! Too late now.

Hampton Hawes has always been another favorite of mine and suggestions from various online discussion boards led me to his “All Night Sessions 1-3” and “The Green Leaves of Summer”. I already had the “Hampton Hawes Trio” reissues and wanted more. The 2-CD reissue of the famous “All Night Sessions”, recorded November 12th and 13th, 1956, is excellent throughout, capturing these two quartet studio sessions which were recorded during regular nightclub performing hours with extended improvisations. This is classic material that every jazz fan should have. “The Green Leaves of Summer” (recorded on February 17, 1964) was Hawes’ return to form after he was released from prison (he had been arrested for heroin possession in 1958, spent five years in jail and was pardoned by President Kennedy in 1963). Hampton Hawes, Monk Montgomery (bass) and Steve Ellington are a tightly swinging unit here and can be heard moving beyond the bop idiom that Hawes had become known for indulging in. Great stuff!

Anything recently reissued with Stan Getz I usually get, but I didn’t jump on the “Carl Tjader Sextet with Stan Getz” reissue, a solid 1958 West Coast session, until two years after it had been released. The same goes for Jack McDuff’s “Honeydripper”. It’s a great session with groovy tracks (the title track is a slow shuffle that just grabs you), a new star on the scene (Grant Green on guitar), and McDuff’s organ, a favorite jazz instrument of mine (when played right). Both the Getz and the McDuff were offered for the price of a bag of peanuts by one of my frequent online dealers and I jumped on them with a single click.

Last but not least, after waiting 30 years for a decent reissue to replace my worn LP, I finally snatched up the 2012 remaster of Vince Guaraldi’s timeless Christmas session, “A Charlie Brown Christmas” (recorded for the Peanuts 1965 Christmas TV special). No need to say more about this timeless classic besides that if you (still) need a copy, get the 2012 remaster.

Classical Music

In 2012 I started investing more money into my classical collection which, compared to the other sections on my shelves, had until that point been rather slim, basically consisting of hand-picked single recordings that I had always loved. When the labels started putting together these massive boxed sets with 50 or, in some cases, even more than 100 CDs, I either jumped on them when they were heavily discounted (which many were) further down the timeline or, if I thought they might disappear off the market soon (which others did), I bought into them right away, usually with an initially cheaper price tag. In this department I was lucky for once and managed to get every box (a lot) cheaper than what they are sold for today (if still available at all).

I know that buying into these boxed sets is definitely not the smartest decision when it comes to building a core collection of classical music. There’s duplication of recordings and some of the recordings are certainly only middle of the road interpretations. Still, for me, someone who likes classical music but doesn’t heavily indulge in it (yet), this was and is a cheap way of getting some basic material onto my shelves. Further down the road this might or might not lead me to searching out better or different interpretations of whatever catches my fancy, but, for the moment, I’m more or less on a road of exploration. For that purpose, these sets come in very handy.

In 2013, four boxed sets were added.

Because I really enjoyed a lot of the recordings on the first volume, I automatically snatched up the second “Mercury Living Presence” (http://www.mercurylivingpresence.com/) set when it became available. Those two boxes alone cover a lot of (also unfamiliar) ground and have great sound.

The “Philips Original Jackets” boxed set was one I waited for to be discounted and after a few months it suddenly popped up again for about half the price, locally. I didn’t have more than one or two recordings in this boxed set and went for it, despite the fact that it is nothing but a cross section of Philips output. Still, after I have listened to quite a bit of this set, it becomes apparent that the editorial work was sound and the selections, if nothing else, have artistic merit. There are quite a few rarities on here and so far I have enjoyed most of the selections.

The last two boxed sets I was alerted to on a discussion board I frequent as soon as both of these were heavily discounted, bringing the price down to way below 50 cents per CD.

The 56-CD “Aldo Ciccolini: The Complete EMI Recordings 1950-1991” (released in 2010, I think) I bought because it came recommended by many and concentrated on music I didn’t yet have much of, especially the French repertoire (his complete 1960s recordings of Satie, which are considered to be definitive by many, plus his Debussy) and Lizt; he also delivered respectable takes on Bach, Scarlatti, Borodin, Albeniz, Severac, and Granados.

The fourth box, the slimmest one with 9CDs, was one I knew. I had bought my mom a subset of the massive 1990/91 Philips Classics “Complete Mozart Edition” for her birthday. That huge box was repackaged by Philips later as the “Complete Compact Mozart Edition” (17 different expanded boxed sets). This Decca box here, “Mozart: Violin and Wind Concertos”, I found at an absolutely laughable price (I think I paid 6 or 7 Euro for it, including shipment) and it collects two of the later Philips Compact Mozart boxes into one (yeah, this reissue marathon is confusing). Suffice it to say that it is identical to the later Philips reissue and it collects 27 compositions. These might not be the definitive interpretations of these compositions, but I really enjoyed them when I listened to the many CDs at my parents’ place on my mom’s birthday way back when and added them to my collection as soon as I heard about this discounted Decca reissue in 2013. Full circle, so to speak.

Finally, all I can say is that it is almost scary to see how cheap some of these good to excellent releases have become. As a fan of jazz who has seen some really expensive reissues (which I bought) drop dramatically in price years later (discounted or reissued), I know how some fans of classical music must feel who pieced a lot of this material together in single releases for, what, 100 times the price?

Justice has been served though as the money I lost on those expensive jazz reissues that were then later discounted heavily, I made back by now getting the cheap classical releases.

2014 and Beyond

I really don’t know what 2014 has in store for us music fans, listeners and collectors, but at the beginning of the year, I have the feeling that I will buy even less in 2014. It is hard to venture a guess, but unless material suddenly appears out of nowhere, my collection of things I wanted to have is almost complete. I have also become quite a bit more discerning and even more patient as I have been these past 2 or three years. There is no need to jump on releases as they arrive because – and I have often gotten burned on this – further down the road items usually become heavily discounted. I might miss out on some if I stick to waiting it out, but the past years have shown that it was a smart move to postpone purchases.

So far, the only pre-order I have lined up for February is the second volume of the “Living Stereo” boxed sets … and that’s it. I’m not holding my breath for the upcoming Rainbow Singles boxed set, for example, simply because the past remasters have been so crappy (which is a total shame) that you can only use them as coasters. There are other reissue projects on the horizon, but before they actually become a reality, I’ll refrain from listing them here.

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The year was off to a good start though. The first new item arrived yesterday. I have just started reading Ted Hershon’s “Norman Granz: The Man Who Used Jazz for Justice” (hardcover, University of California Press, 2011) and am looking forward to delving into the story of a man who shaped jazz music in the 20th century like only very, very few others have. The book comes highly recommended by just about every jazz critic, historian and columnist and I’ll leave you with a quote by Nat Hentoff, one of the world’s leading jazz experts:

“Norman Granz was renowned as a vivid force in jazz history, both as a producer of invaluable classic recordings by many of the music’s most original performers and also for his world-wide, all-star Jazz at the Philharmonic tours. Moreover, he broke the color line dividing jazz audiences by mandating the end of segregated seating his continually popular concerts. Yet until this magisterial, deeply researched biography of Granz by Tad Hershorn, there has been no full-scale inside account of the achievement and combats of this often larger-than-life personality who, without playing an instrument, was so swingingly instrumental in making jazz an international language.”

See you ’round in 2014.

Posted by Volkher Hofmann

Volkher Hofmann (deus62) has been blogging on and off since the 1990s and deus62.com is all that is left. He loves music, literature, drumming and, most of all, real life. He thinks the open web is much more important than social networks, closed-in ecosystems and other severely commercialized online endeavors.

  1. Great to have touch base with you once again.

    I can only comment on jazz collection.

    It is still a please to go through my usual routine to browse and dig out re-issues second hand in Hong Kong. There are still items that can prop up out of nowhere and it is nice to pick up second hand of newer releases dating back from the late 80s, 90s and 00s. Furthermore, I can some time grab hold of new releases at nice price in the second hand market: I don’t know why, maybe they are promotional items. I got quite a numbers of items from ECM (which really is not my cup of tea) and artists like Cassandra Wilson (she is superior), Christian McBride and the like.

    As for my indulgence for Box Sets, I do it from the Web and I am currently into collecting CDs from the Atlantic Label: in late 60s and 70s, uneven but there are great stuff in them.

    I will seriously consider the Verve Book & ther Singles Box but like to hear from you further on your comments.

    Have fun and stay healthy.

    Cham

    Reply

    1. Cham,

      great to have you around.
      Because of life and the universe, I couldn’t devote any time to my website and did not have a chance to reply sooner.
      Sorry.

      My second-hand purchases have slowed down quite a bit although they should be speeding up when comparing the (lower) prices today to the (much higher) ones of years ago. Still, I often have the feeling that I have most of what I wanted these past two decades or so and I usually just go for single high spots to fill the gaps. Still, there’s so much coming out (again) that I am often tempted. Space considerations keep my buying impulses at bay though. For every box I buy, I need to shift everything else a meter downwards, upwards, into another room … or elsewhere. First world problems. 😀

      P.S.: The Verve Singles box set is up next on this site.

      Reply

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