More rewarding than going to the mall in search of the nonexistent record store (now replaced by a kiosk selling baseball caps you can have embroidered with your name, perhaps?). More personal than bidding and clicking online, it’s my return to AMOEBA MUSIC in San Francisco!
It should say something about the impression this store (and its Berkeley branch) made on me this last summer that I can summon up “1855 Haight Street” without having to think about it. And the flimsy yellow plastic bag I brought back to my apartment has not been used for any ordinary purpose. Inside the store the view is awe-inspiring and not a little intimidating for those who (unlike me) collect broadly across the musical spectrum:
I knew where I was going and my path had only two main oases — leaving aside the cash register at the end. One delicious spot is sequestered in a corner: several bookshelves filled with albums of 10″ 78 rpm records. You’d have to be a collector of older music or someone of a certain age to be familiar with this display in its unaltered state. It still thrills me but it has the odd flavor of a museum exhibit — although I know of no museum where you can purchase the exhibits and take them home. See if this photograph doesn’t provoke some of the same emotions:
And what do these albums contain? I’ll skip over the dollar 1941-2 OKeh Count Basie discs, the odd Dave Brubeck 78, the remarkable Mercer Records PERDIDO by Oscar Pettiford on cello, the Artie Shaw Bluebirds . . . for a few that struck particular chords with me:
That one’s to inspire my pal Ricky Riccardi on to his next book!
One of the finest front lines imaginable — a pairing that only happened once.
The right Stuff . . . for Anthony Barnett.
Milt Gabler made good records!
In honor of Maggie Condon, Stan and Stephen Hester . . . and I didn’t arrange the records for this shot. When was the last time you entered a record store with its own Eddie Condon section?
It would have been disrespectful to confine myself to taking pictures and not buying anything (also, enterprises like this need some support to stay in business), so I did my part.
The reverse of a Johnny Guarnieri tribute to Fats Waller, autographed to “Ed,” whom I assume played a little piano.
The NOB HILL GANG might look like another San Francisco “Dixieland” band, but any group with Ernie Figueroa on trumpet and Vince Cattolica on clarinet demands serious consideration.
But wait! There’s more!
A Roy Eldridge collection on Phontastic (source: Jerry Valburn) of Gene Krupa 1941-2 airshots plus the 1940 Fred Rich date with Benny Carter;
ONE WORLD JAZZ — a 1959 Columbia stereo attempt at internationalism through overdubbing, featuring a home unit of Americans: Clark Terry, Ben Webster, J. J. Johnson, Hank Jones, Kenny Burrell, George Duvivier, and Jo Jones — with overdubbed contributions from Bob Garcia, Martial Solal, Stephane Grappelly, Ake Persson, Roger Guerin, Roy East, Ronnie Ross, and George Chisholm;
Marty Grosz and his Honoris Causa Jazz Band on Ristic / Collector’s Items — featuring unissued material and rehearsals from the HOORAY FOR BIX! sessions — featuring Frank Chace;
a double-CD set on the Retrieval label of the Rhythmic Eight, in honor of Mauro Porro, whose set at the 2011 Whitley Bay paying homage to this band was memorable;
a Leo Watson compilation CD on Indigo — just because I couldn’t leave it there;
the Billy Strayhorn LUSH LIFE compilation on Doctor Jazz, with a fine small group whose horns are Clark Terry and Bob Wilber.
The end result at the cash register? Forty-three dollars and some cents. Worth a trip from just about anywhere.