Big Day at the Yard Sale

Rolling around the neighborhood the other day and I see a yard sale with, quite literally, hundreds of records scattered around a front lawn. A couple hours scouring the piles yielded 12 records for the low, low price of $1/each.

As should be expected at that price, nothing here is in great condition. I’m no expert in rating vinyl, but all of the records have some scratching, with at least one being pretty heavily damaged. All of the sleeves have moderate to severe damage. But, with only one exception, they’re all playable. Here’s a run down:

Pat Metheny Group- American GarageNot my favorite Metheny record, but still pretty decent. Lyle Mays’ keys sound incredibly dated, and I’m not a big Mark Egan fan, especially when he’s in full-on Jaco clone mode as he is here.

Gene Ammons- Big Bad JugAnother miss here. I took a look at the line-up and thought this might be pretty strong. Ron Carter on DB and EB, Idris Muhammad and BIlly Cobham, Hank Jones on electric piano and Ammons the lone horn player, but the song selection is pretty terrible and overall it comes off sounding like sugary-sweet pop.

The Ahmad Jamal Trio- Finally something cool. The first LP with Jamal as leader, this trio features Israel Crosby on bass and Ray Crawford on guitar. Fun takes on “Autumn Leaves” and “Love For Sale” give a taste of where Jamal was going.

Various Artists- Autobiography in Jazz- Now this is something interesting. A sort-of “best of” from Debut Records, this features various cuts pulled from dates spanning 1952, ’53 and ’54. Too many names to mention pop up on this one, including Mingus (who is on about half the tracks), Max Roach, Lee Konitz, Hank Mobley, Teo Macero, Hank Jones, Bud Powell, “Milton” Hinton, Percy Heath, Louie Bellson, and on and on. My favorite tacks are The Bud Powell Trio (with Mingus and Roach) doing “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” and a very young Paul Bley leading a trio with Mingus and Art Blakey through “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”. This record’s worth having.

The next two records come from the Ramsey Lewis Trio with Eldee Young and Red Holt, both recorded at the Bohemian Caverns in Washington, D.C.  First up is 1964’s The Ramsey Lewis Trio at The Bohemian Caverns. This set is highlighted by a sort of overture through tunes from West Side Story, by Young’s excellent pizzicato cello on “My Babe” and the only original tune, a song written specifically for the Bohemian Caverns called “The Cave”.

In 1965 the band was back at the Bohemian Caverns for three nights, later released as The In Crowd. I always like hearing bands evolve, and this one was definitely growing. Again, my favorite bit is Young’s pizz cello, this time on “Tennessee Waltz”.

Cannonball Adderley Quintet- In San Francisco- The opening track, Bobby Timmons’ “This Here”, sets the tone- groove above all else. Gospel, soul, R&B and jazz all perfectly melded into that classic Adderley product. I’m betting Joe Zawinul wore out the grooves on this one.

Jimmy McGriff- The Worm- This is exactly what you expect from 1968 Jimmy McGriff. Nothing mind blowing, nothing too complicated, just groove for days and buckets of soul. I imagine this record is many DJs’ arsenals, maybe just for the first 4 bars of the first tune.

The Modern Jazz Quartet- MJQ At Music Inn w/ Jimmy Giuffre-  Unfortunately, this one would hardly play. I suppose that for $1/record I can’t complain, but this is one I was looking forward to the most.


Erroll Garner- Soliloquy- Overall, this is my favorite record of the bunch. A solo piano recording from a master. I’m thinking Jarret gave this one a few spins. Great creativity on standards with just the right levity. The most enjoyable listen of the bunch.

Sidney Bechet- Jazz Festival Concert Paris 1952- And this was the biggest surprise. I’m not a big fan of trad, but this record is a lot of fun. It also plays great, which was surprising given the condition of the jacket and what looked to be some pretty deep scratches on the disc. Apparently its pretty collectible, so I’m trying to decide whether I should old on to it or take it over to Amoeba and trade it out for some stuff that will get more play.

All in all, a pretty good day. It seems like with all the TV shows about finding treasure in your attic and eBay only a few clicks away to tell you what your junk is worth, there are fewer and fewer opportunities to dig through yard sales and flea markets for gold. I’m glad I had this one.

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