You, me, the music, and me.

Monday, October 31, 2005

CECIL TAYLOR Unit Structures

Blue Note BST 84237 (1966)

Sometimes I feel a little sorry for Cecil Taylor. He's a classically trained pianist who was a pioneer in the advancement of creative improvised music, or "free" music, or "free jazz", whichever term you prefer, and to this day there are still people who say that he can't play, or that what he plays isn't even music. He's the only artist to get dissed in Ken Burns' Jazz series (by Branford Marsalis, in response to a quote from Taylor in which, responding to a question about the difficult nature of his music, he says that, if he must prepare for the concerts he gives, then so should the audience. I'd repeat what Marsalis said, but I'm running a family blog here.).Yet Taylor has persevered, in a career now entering its sixth decade, as perhaps the most important and influential postmodern jazz pianist of all time.

Unit Structures finds Taylor leading a seven-piece group through four of his original compositions. His good friend and longtime musical compatriot Jimmy Lyons plays alto saxophone, as does Ken McIntyre (who also plays bass clarinet and oboe on the album). Eddie Gale Stevens Jr. rounds out the horn section on trumpet, while the rhythm section consists of two bassists (Henry Grimes and Alan Silva) and drummer Andrew Cyrille. In the middle, leading from within, is Taylor, who has already trademarked his unmistakeable sound; frenzied atonal runs up and down the keys punctuated by pounding tone clusters (Taylor's mother was a dancer, and he once said that in his playing he liked to imitate the leaps in space that a dancer makes.)

For the most part, the pieces tend to follow the free jazz model of an opening statement or theme by the group, followed by solos, then a concluding statement which is usually the same or similar to the first one. With Taylor's compositions, it's a little difficult to tell which parts are written out and which are improvised; the band moves so seamlessly from one section to the next that it feels like the music is being created with one mind. The opening track, "Steps", features some furious soloing from Taylor against the sawing sounds of the two basses and Cyrille's skittering percussion, while "Enter, Evening (Soft Line Structure)" opens with elegant, dissonant counterpoint amongst the horns, gradually evolving into soothing Martian nightclub music. "Unit Structure/As of a Now/Section" builds from quiet, swinging interplay between the band members into a frenzied, almost uncontrolled assault. "Tales (8 Whisps)" closes the album with Taylor's piano pitted against drums and bass for a rousing trio finale.

If you've never heard Taylor's music or haven't had much experience with free jazz, you might want to try some of his recordings made before this session, such as Jazz Advance or Looking Ahead!, in which the rhythm section keeps a more traditional jazz beat and Cecil's experimentation hadn't yet reached its full flower. However, if you want to plunge right in, get Unit Structures. The music of Cecil Taylor is definitely not for everyone, but for those willing to "prepare" themselves and open their ears a little wider than usual, a brave new world of sound awaits.

Friday, October 28, 2005

TAXI DRIVER Original Soundtrack Recording

Arista AL 4079 (1976)

Remember a couple of posts back when I said that Anthony Braxton is the man? Well, Martin Scorsese is also the man. Now, you may be wondering, how can Martin Scorsese possibly be the man when Anthony Braxton is the man? Isn't that, like, one man too many? Well, Scorsese is the man when it comes to movies. One of the few American directors to survive in Hollywood with his scruples and his artistry (not to mention his sanity) intact, Scorsese has created an impressively consistent body of work that spans four decades and contains such seemigly disparate films as Mean Streets, Raging Bull, After Hours, The Age of Innocence, and Kundun. The common theme in Scorsese's films is redemption; in nearly every one of his movies a character seeks to reform himself or achieve self-betterment through whatever means are at his disposal. In Taxi Driver, the character of Travis Bickle goes to violent extremes in his quest for redemption, and it is unclear at the end of the film whether he has achieved it.

The score for Taxi Driver was composed by Bernard Herrmann, whose career in film music spanned four decades and included such notable movies as Citizen Kane, Psycho, Journey to the Center of the Earth, and The Devil and Daniel Webster, for which he won his only Oscar. Taxi Driver was his final film; he passed away just hours after recording it. Herrmann had a reputation for being "difficult" and for voicing his opinion when he disagreed with a director; when Alfred Hitchcock told him he wanted a jazz score for Psycho and no music during the famous "shower scene", Herrmann went ahead with his own ideas, which Hitchcock eventually agreed with. The sound of scraping violins (being bowed behind the bridge) has been used ever since to represent the feeling of blind terror.

Side two of the album contains selections from the soundtrack which were composed and arranged by Herrmann. The swelling brass, accelerating drumbeat, and sweeping harp still brings a chill to my spine every time I hear the opening theme. There's even a track called "Diary of a TAXI DRIVER" which is "narrated" by Robert DeNiro, meaning that it features samples of his dialogue from the movie, including the legendary "You talkin' to me?" sequence. Side one features music from the score composed by Herrmann but arranged by Dave Blume, with alto saxophone by lite-jazz specialist Tom Scott. These tracks are good but fail to match the punch of the Herrmann orchestrations (I'm not even 100% sure they're actually in the film).

Taxi Driver brought Herrmann both a final, posthumous Oscar nomination and recognition from the hip, younger crowd who formed the audience for the particular brand of "edgy" American cinema that ruled the seventies. It served as a rousing coda to a brilliant career, as well as a confirmation of Bernard Herrmann's status as "the man" when it came to movie music.

(video not work-safe)

Thursday, October 27, 2005

MECO Star Wars and Other Galactic Funk

Millenium MNLP 8001-V (1977)

I picked this one up on Labour Day of this year at a flea market in uptown Saint John. The guy originally wanted forty dollars, but was willing to part with it for twenty; I think I bargained him down to fourteen. In collector's terms, I don't think it's worth that much (even though it's in great shape) but I felt it calling to me, saying, "Buy me! Buy meeee! I am your nostalgic memories of childhooooooood!" See, back in 1977 or thereabouts, I remember having to choose between buying this album or another one by Meco at Zellers. The one I got (for 99 cents) was called Encounters of Every Kind, which was an "interpretation" of the film Close Encounters of the Third Kind (and which seems to have gone missing from my collection over the years). I guess I must have had a slight preference for that movie over Star Wars, or maybe I just thought the cover looked cooler. Anyway, I always wondered what this one sounded like until now.

Domenico "Meco" Monardo was a producer and arranger from Pennsylvania who had some success at the dawn of the disco era producing hits for Gloria Gaynor and Carol Douglas. As legend has it, he saw Star Wars on its opening day and was so impressed by it that he went four more times on the second day and again on the weekend. He began to imagine what a disco version of the score would sound like, and in just three weeks, this album was recorded. A single released from the record went on to outsell the album of the original score by John Williams, and Meco was nominated for a Grammy as "Best Instrumental Pop Performer" (which he lost... to John Williams).

Star Wars and Other Galactic Funk is divided into two sections. Side one is a medley of musical themes such as "Imperial Attack" and "The Land of the Sand People" played over a disco beat, Hooked-on-Classics style. Williams' original score for Star Wars was recently awarded first place on the American Film Institute's list of top film scores of all time (his name appears only once on this album, in a credit on the label) and his horn-and-string-heavy melodies adapt themselves pretty well to a disco beat (especially "Cantina Band"). Side two is made up of three tracks entitled "Other", "Galactic", and "Funk" that sound like "Rockit"-era Herbie Hancock leading a marching band drumline. It's an interesting, original sound that no one today seems to have picked up on or developed; too bad. (There even seems to be some record-scratching going on, probably one of the earliest examples of this technique on record.)

Monardo continues to record to this day; his latest effort is titled (surprise!) Star Wars Party. Many of his recordings have been reissued on CD, including this one, and others can be tracked down on eBay or at your favourite flea market. Click here for a discography, and may the Fo... uh, I mean, good luck.

(note - album track does not include character voices heard in video)

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


Delmark DS-420/421 (1973)

Anthony Braxton is the man. If you keep reading this blog for however long it will last, that is the impression that will eventually be conveyed. I don't mean "the man" in the bad sense, like "the man's keeping me down"; Anthony Braxton's music lifts me up. It's beautiful, complex, frightening, abstract, maddening, and passionate. People use the term "world music" when talking about music from a culture other than their own; I think of Braxton's music as "world music" because it is a world all its own, a fascinating place that you can visit at the drop of a needle.

Recorded in the summer of 1969, For Alto was Braxton's second recording made under his own name (and his second for the tiny Chicago label Delmark). It is truly a solo album in that all four sides of this double album feature nothing but the sound of his alto saxophone. Braxton had been giving solo concerts and was working his way toward preparing enough material for a recording; he began to develop his own kind of "language musics", which were different musical techniques that he could improvise with/from. His later compositions would feature numbers in lieu of titles, and each would combine written parts with space for improvisation, forming a sort of "comprovisation" that was influenced by the jazz tunes he grew up practicing.

Each piece on For Alto is titled as a dedication to a person who was either a friend of Braxton's or an artistic influence on him. The brief, quietly meditative "Dedicated to multi-instrumentalist Jack Gell" leads straight into "To Composer John Cage", nearly ten minutes of frantic arpeggios and over-blowing. "To artist Murray De Pillars" features spacious, intervallic soloing broken up with fluttertonguing effects, while "To pianist Cecil Taylor" has a surprisingly bluesy feel (somewhat unlike Taylor's avant-gardeisms). "Dedicated to Ann and Peter Allen" is so quiet that at times it's almost inaudible, and "Dediacted to multi-instrumentalist Leroy Jenkins" uses drastic, unexpected shifts in volume and dynamics to create a feeling of unease. (Braxton would later go back and assign composition numbers to each of the pieces on the album.)

As much as I love his work, I must stress that Anthony Braxton's music is not for everyone. It tends to have a jarring effect on people who are used to traditional or mainstream jazz, and some of it sounds like what space aliens would come up with were they to try and replicate Earth's jazz and classical music. To his credit, Braxton himself doesn't think of his music as obscure or "difficult"; he once told of how his youthful, arrogant self was shocked when this album didn't sell millions upon its release. He had even cleared a shelf in his home for the countless awards it would undoubtedly receive! For Alto might not be the easiest place to start with Braxton's music, but it's still as true a self-portrait as you're going to get.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


Arista AB 4141 (1977)

If you grew up during the seventies and listened to any music at all, you've probably at least heard of The Band, four Canadians and one American who began their career together as backup musicians first for Ronnie Hawkins and later for Bob Dylan. Their albums were praised for capturing the sound of the American heartland and the pioneer spirit that went with it. Rick Danko was a guy from Simcoe, Ontario who played bass and sang on many of The Band's most beloved songs, such as "The Weight" and "Stage Fright". The idea of someone "singing from their heart" is a tired trope in rock 'n' roll, but you couldn't find a better embodiment of it than Danko; his vocals were 100% free of pretension or mannerism. On a technical level, he may not have been a Van Morrison or a Sam Cooke, but he sang with the same kind of soul.

There's a moment in The Last Waltz, the concert film of The Band's final performance together, that shows director Martin Scorsese interviewing Danko during the recording of this album. As he plays Scorsese a tape of "Sip the Wine", Danko grows quiet, hat pulled low over his eyes, lost in the music. On stage, Danko would bounce and bob as he plucked his bass, his limbs turning to rubber as he sang with a combination of innocence and possession, totally giving himself over to the music. (For an even more extreme example of this, check out the film Festival Express for an informal jam session with Janis Joplin and members of the Grateful Dead, in which Danko sings a drunken version of "Ain't No More Cane" that is so wild that Joplin asks him if he's "okay". Folks, if Janis Joplin is worried about your health and sobriety, then you may have a problem.*).

Rick Danko isn't a set-the-world-on-fire type of album, but, like its creator, it possesses a laid-back, humble charm that will satisfy any Band fan. It's the ballads that make the album; the keening "Sip the Wine" and "Shake It" are the kind of songs that gently touch the listener on the shoulder, while the up-tempo rockers ("What a Town" and "Java Blues") grab your hand and swing you out onto the dance floor. The guest list reads like a who's-who of seventies rock: Eric Clapton, Doug Sahm, Ron Wood, and every member of the Band appear throughout the record. It's a "super-session" that sounds remarkably free of ego, a rarity for its time, mostly due to the man behind the bass.

*(Side note: recently a friend told me an anecdote about some friends of his who were at a house party in Simcoe. An inebriated Rick Danko showed up at the door, much to the chagrin of the hosts. "Oh, God, don't let him in!'" they said; now, mind you, everyone there knew who he was, and they were all big Band/Last Waltz fans, but apparently Rick had a bit of a rep as a hard partier. He kept pounding on the door, shouting, "Hey, let me in, man! I'm Rick Danko!" while everyone pretended to be "not home". In the morning, they found him asleep on the porch. I probably would have let him in; whether I would have regretted it or not is something I'll never know.)

Thursday, October 20, 2005


Arista-Freedom 1017 (1975)

Here's the very latest addition to my collection. It's another Arista-Freedom recording from the seventies, this time by trumpeter Charles Tolliver. I hadn't heard any of his recordings before, so this was basically bought sight-unseen (hearing-unheard?) on eBay. I was bidding on a couple of Archie Shepp records and saw this listed by the same seller, so I figured I'd throw it in there too and get more records for what would probably be close to the same postage. I got outbid on the Shepp albums, but ended up winning this one for $4.76 (with shipping and handling coming to $5.25!).

I had heard Tolliver's name connected with certain avant-garde circles, so I was a little surprised to find that this album contained fairly straightahead jazz. It sounds like some of John Coltrane's early-to-mid-sixties material with his famous quartet, or fellow trumpeter Woody Shaw. Tolliver's tone is clean, clear, and bright, and his band, consisting of pianist Stanley Cowell, bassist Steve Novosel, and drummer Jimmy Hopps, provides solid, supple support. The title track sounds like a great lost recording from a Blue Note session by Herbie Hancock or Freddie Hubbard, while "Mother Wit" displays a subtle lyricism that wouldn't be out of place on a Miles Davis album from the fifties or sixties. The lengthy "On the Nile" has an exotic, modal sound not unlike that of Pharoah Sanders.

The Ringer was available on CD for a while, but may currently be out of print. If you dig around, you may be able to find a copy; get the record if you can, which boasts a far superior cover. One of my beefs with the CD reissues of the Freedom albums (when they happen at all) is that many don't contain the original cover art (and when they do, of course, it's shrunken down to CD size). An album like The Ringer is a rare example of an album that I'd prefer to have on vinyl instead of CD (the fact that mine is a barely-played DJ copy certainly doesn't hurt, either!).

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

PERE UBU The Art of Walking

Rough Trade 14 (1980)

As rock critic/sociologist Greil Marcus once wrote, punk is where you find it. Pere Ubu were a band of musical misfits from Cleveland, Ohio who started playing together in 1975. While groups such as the Sex Pistols and the Ramones were recording their first albums for major labels, bands like Pere Ubu (as well as Television and the Buzzcocks) were releasing limited runs of their own "homemade" singles, sparking an "underground" movement in popular music that emphasized "doing it yourself" (or "DIY" for short).

The Art of Walking was the band's fourth full-length LP and was released on the British Rough Trade label. Even by Ubu standards, it's out there; (relatively) straightahead rockers like "Go" and "Misery Goats" are outnumbered by weirdly experimental tracks like "Miles" (in which singer David Thomas moans "There's no place like home" over and over in a shivery voice against a swelling organ accompaniment), "Arabia" (seemingly aimless synthesizer noodling over a plodding, minimalist beat), and "Crush this Horn" (shortwave radio static). The craziness comes to a head in "Lost in Art", which features Thomas beating on a drum and yelling about shoes while the sound of snoring is heard in the background. Halfway through the track, Thomas starts to berate his "audience", who has apparently gotten fed up and left ("Hey! Where'd everybody go? Come back!").

If you've never heard Ubu, The Art of Walking might not be the best place to start (try their 1988 reunion album The Tenement Year or the singles collection Terminal Tower), but it's a fun, playful, and smart record that shows that, as arty and impenetrable as they could sometimes be, Pere Ubu always had a sense of humour.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

CIRCLE Paris-Concert

ECM 1018/19 ST (1972)

Circle were a group of musicians who came together for a brief period in the early seventies and played an energetic brand of free-form jazz and improvisation. Their members were pianist Chick Corea, bassist Dave Holland, percussionist Barry Altschul, and sax-and-reed-man Anthony Braxton. Circle's few recordings are difficult to come by today, but I was lucky enough to find this live double-album at Days of Wine and Vinyl in Halifax for ten dollars. I was just "getting into" jazz and recognized Corea's name, but it would turn out to be Braxton who would lure me into the improv genre. I went on to purchase over fifty of his albums (and counting), many of which I'll tell you about in the months to come.

The album contains compositions/improvisations by each member of the quartet, as well as a cover of Wayne Shorter's "Nefertiti" and the standard "No Greater Love". Everyone is in fine form; listen to the incredibly underrated Altschul bounce along beneath "Nefertiti" or wind out on Braxton's "73 Degrees Kelvin (Variation-3)", and check out Holland's nimble fingering on his solo showpiece "Song for the Newborn". Circle's recordings contain what is probably Corea's most "out" playing on record; he unhesitantly follows Braxton into uncharted waters on their "Duet", plucking away furiously at the strings inside the piano. Conversely, Braxton shows off his straightahead jazz chops on the swinging "No Greater Love", proving himself as adept at standards as on his own knotty compostions.

Circle would disintegrate not long after this album, with Corea being lured away by Scientology and a larger audience of fusion fans, but all four members continued to make challenging, personal music on their own. Their albums as a group are worth the search, though... they were a "supergroup" whose whole was at least equal to (and often greater than) the sum of their parts.

Saturday, October 15, 2005


Columbia Masterworks MS 7268 (1969?)

"A 'happening'... Music as jauntily complex as its title is simple." - The New York Post

I found this album in the bargain bin at Backstreet Records in Saint John, N.B. for fifty cents. Luciano Berio was an Italian composer whose name I remembered from my music history classes as being an important figure in twentieth century experimental music. Sinfonia features the New York Philharmonic (conducted by Berio) and the a cappella vocal group the Swingle Singers. It is constructed in the form of a symphony, with four movements (a fifth was added after this recording); at just under 27 minutes, the album may seem short (even for a vinyl disc), but it feels full, as if no other music could possibly fit on a disc alongside a piece this massive in content.

A "happening" is an apt way to describe this composition; it feels totally in sync with the psychedelic sixties during which it was composed, yet it doesn't sound dated. Parts of it sound like a dream or hallucination, where things that normally wouldn't make sense possess a strange logic. Berio uses some interesting compositional devices, such as creating a text for the second movement made up entirely of the letters of Dr. Martin Luther King's name. The third movement is a "mutation" of the third movement of Gustav Mahler's second symphony (the "Resurrection") which acts as a "container" for a number of musical quotations and references to composers such as Bach, Debussy, Ravel, Strauss, Beethoven, Wagner, Stravinsky, Stockhausen, and on and on up to Berio himself. As the piece progresses, the references become newer and more recent, producing a feeling of travelling forward through time (kind of like the opening scene in the movie Contact, but in reverse).

Sinfonia is a special piece of music, an "experimental" compostion that actually feels like an experiment. It's a document, both of its time and beyond its time. All for only fifty cents! Kids, don't neglect those bargain bins!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

By the way...

... the title of this blog comes from the title of a tune by tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson.

Earlier on, I started writing tunes. When I was about fourteen or fifteen years old, I wrote my first composition. That tune was recorded on a Bluenote record, the very first record I did. It's one of the tunes that I get the most recognition for and it's called Recordame. When I first wrote it, it had a Latin flavor to it. But when the Bossa Nova came out I changed it to fit that rhythm, which meant that I changed a couple of phrases around.

- from an interview with Mel Martin, 1991

X Under the Big Black Sun

Elektra 96 01501 (1982)

My earliest memory of X is seeing them play on American Bandstand one Saturday afternoon in the early eighties. I was about 12 or 13 at the time, and I think I tuned in midway through their first song (I don't remember what it was). They got a big hand from the audience, then Dick Clark came over and talked to them for a brief interview, then they played another song, which was "Motel Room in My Bed", the second song on their third album, Under the Big Black Sun. They looked scruffy and were dressed kind of raggedly, yet I remember thinking (a) they looked pretty cool and (b) there was music out there that wasn't getting played on the radio that sounded like nothing on the radio, and certainly nothing I had ever heard. This was probably the moment that I was introduced to the idea of "alternative" music.

X were a punk band from Los Angeles who had a knack for writing fast, catchy songs that owed as much to classic rock and roll (Eddie Cochran, Chuck Berry) as to earlier punk pioneers like the Ramones and the Sex Pistols. Their guitarist was a blond greaser named Billy Zoom who stood with his legs spread apart as wide as they would go while peeling off blistering rockabilly licks from a Gretsch guitar. Bassist John Doe shared vocal chores with his ex-wife Exene Cervenka, their harmonies violently veering in and out of tune. Their drummer was named D.J. Bonebrake. You get the idea that X were a pretty colourful crew, yet in their songs they tended towards a practical conservatism that was rare in the early, hedonistic days of punk.

Each side of the album follows a similar trajectory; open with a few angry, blasting love songs, throw in a fifties-style ballad, and close with a weary-but-wise moral. There's a sadness behind even the fiercest music on the record, as several of the songs (such as "Riding with Mary" and "Come Back to Me") were written about the death of Cervenka's sister, who perished in a car accident before the album was recorded. The production by Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek is so crisp and muscular that it sounds great even on my cheap system. The Rhino CD reissue contains bonus tracks; I haven't heard it, but I imagine it's well worth your time.

X would go through some changes both in lineup and sound during the eighties and nineties, but their first four albums remain unassailable classics, not just of punk rock but of great rock 'n' roll, period. Recently, all four original members reunited to record a live concert DVD that contains music from around the time of this album. As they say, you shoulda been there, but if you couldn't, now you (sorta) can.

ARCHIE SHEPP There's a Trumpet in My Soul

Arista-Freedom 1016 (1975)

To kick things off, let's have a look at a sentimental favourite by tenor saxophone giant Archie Shepp. Shepp was a poet/ playwright/musician/actor/ composer from Philadelphia who was one of a number of artists signed to Arista Records' Freedom imprint. These musicians mostly played what was then termed "The New Thing", or "free jazz". This music had its roots in jazz, but allowed the artist to work outside of the strictures of the idiom, sometimes by ignoring chord structures and/or conventional rhythms. Shepp's music was noted for its political slant, as well as for its roots in the blues. He recorded prolifically during the sixties and seventies, and still performs today, though his recordings have become fewer and farther between.

I bought this album for $4.99 at Taz Records in Halifax, Nova Scotia sometime during the late nineties while in town for a friend's wedding. I love the look of these covers; nearly all of the Freedom releases used a similar design, and I would often buy them on sight even if I had never heard of the artist. Many jazz labels seem to inspire that kind of brand loyalty (hatArt, ECM, Tzadik) through jacket design alone.

The title suite is divided into two parts, one on either side of the album, with each part divided into three subsections. The first part opens with vocalist Semenya McCord singing the free-floating title track, followed by the brief, bouncy "Samba da Rua". "Zaid Part One" follows, which is nearly six minutes of Shepp blowing over a driving rhythm supplied by pianist Dave Burrell, drummer Beaver Harris, and either Jimmy Garrison or Vishnu Wood on bass (I'm guessing it's Garrison). The track fades out over a tuba solo by Ray Draper.

At the end of side one is "Down in Brazil", a bizarrely out-of-place vocal number sung by Bill Willingham and written by Harris and trumpeter Roy Burrowes. It's the type of song that you'd hear in an informercial for a cruise line, all happy horns and lilting Carribean rhythms, and yet it somehow works. Maybe it was intended as the album's sole shot at commercial radio airplay (which would make more sense if it weren't ten minutes long!).

Side two fades in on "Zaid Part Two", which features more energetic blowing from Shepp over Walter Davis, Jr.'s electric piano. Shepp is known for his brawny, almost boozy tone, which at times sounds like Ben Webster on a really mean bender. On this track, each player gets in a solo (sometimes two or three simultaneously), with the sound growing more frenzied and raucous, until we arrive at "It Is the Year of the Rabbit", a poetic recitation by Bill Hasson with accompaniment from the ensemble. There is a brief, final blast of "Zaid Part Three", and the record comes to a close.

Many critics cite this album as one of Shepp's lesser works and say that it lacks focus, but I like it because, despite its seemingly disparate parts, it works as a whole. It's a statement by a truly individual artist, a picture of what he was thinking and feeling at the time. Plus, it swings like a mo-fo.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


What you see before you is my attempt to review my massive record collection, one disc (or maybe two or three) at a time. I'm a private music teacher and church organist from Lower Canada who likes to spend his free time thumbing through used record bins in thrift stores, flea markets, etc. I'm not sure I'd call myself a record collector; I'm not the kind of person who'd shell out hundreds of dollars for a rare picture disc by Alvin and the Chipmunks or whomever. I'm more of a record scavenger; I get a thrill out of buying old, out-of-print jazz records for five bucks a pop, or discovering XTC and Nick Lowe albums in the quarter bin at the Salvation Army.

I'm also not one of those people who has a semi-religious zeal for vinyl; if I see an album I want on CD and vinyl for the same price, I'll get the CD. I like buying records because usually you can find them pretty cheaply, and less money spent means more music bought. I have a cheap old stereo and a dependable turntable; what more could one ask for?

So stay tuned... I'll try to update as much as I can (hopefully at least twice a week).