Saturday, February 5, 2011

Advanced Jazz CD Collecting: A Quick “How To”

The basis for my jazz music collection has always been the Penguin Jazz Recordings Guide’s “Core Collection”. Remember that I started out in jazz without owning a single jazz album, except for three culled from a Wall Street Journal article about “must have” jazz recordings and some average stuff borrowed and burned from the library (I don’t do that anymore, so don’t call the FBI.) . So using the core collection of the Penguin Guide eighth edition, I began buying jazz CD’s.

As is to be expected with a list like the core collection, probably more than half the CD’s are common, relatively inexpensive, and easily found on amazon or ebay. But as you pick what I call the low hanging fruit, you are left with high hanging fruit that gets increasingly harder to find and more and more expensive. Some of the recordings are downright rare, and as I’ve written before, some can’t be had for love or money. They just aren’t out there. Be that as it may, I am dangerously close to completing the core collection with only one or two substitutes, but no integral gaps from the 188 selections.

Notice there that I say “selections” because some are multi-disc sets and some recordings are now available either as parts of boxed sets or other compilations. That complicates matters. So here’s the “how to” for completing the core collection:

1)  Get the easy ones first. Lots of artists can be had for just a couple of bucks: Bill Evans, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, etc. Most every selection on amazon will have a “People who bought this also bought…” underneath with a bunch more of the selections you will need to complete the collection. Pick up what you need.
2)  Buy used. Used CD’s are almost always half the price of new, or less. There are some CD’s I literally picked up for the cost of shipping. 
 3)  Keep track of what you have and what you don’t. You will quickly form a mental database that will help guide your search and will alert you when you come across something rare or hard to find.
4)  If you see one of the rare ones, buy it. You have to convince yourself that money is not an issue here, because there are some that I have seen and failed to purchase because I thought it too expensive, and then I never saw the thing again. It’s frustrating. More frustrating than breaking the budget.
5)   Search ebay and amazon everyday. The foreign amazon sites are also worthwhile. I found some on amazon Japan that I couldn’t find anywhere else. Use the wishlist (amazon) and watchlist (ebay) to keep your eye on prices and availability.
6)  Spend the time and money.
7)  Listen and enjoy your collection. You deserve it.

Depending on the availability of one or two CD’s and whether I opt to substitute or not, I should finish my core collection by the end of March. I plan to take a picture of me sitting in the middle of all those CD’s. It’s going to be exciting.

No comments: