Weekly Digs – May 12, 2012

Definitely gotten it in this past week on the digging. A week ago, I pulled myself out of bed at 4:45am on a Saturday to stumble to the subway, sleepwalk to New Jersey Transit, and somehow make it on board the SEPTA train to Philly. Like some kind of 90s music video, my train arrived parallel to another train from the Philly suburbs, carrying none other than partner-in-crates Verb Math (aka Dave) and we stepped out onto the platform from adjacent trains like it was all pre-planned. (Only slightly)

Anyway, enough with the play-by-play. Basically, the mutual mission was the Philadelphia Flea Market (There has been a hesitation to reveal locations like this in the past due to the competitive digging aspect, balanced against telling good stories and sharing tales of finding great music. I still battle with it, but for the most part there’s enough to share, especially at these flea markets. If you’re gonna wake up early and spend the time to go in on these records, then you deserve to know about some spots, if that makes sense.), an occasional occurrence I’ve found myself at over the past decade, sometimes with much success, other times with nothing, but still worth a trip out of New York. (At least it always makes you feel like you’re dedicated to this crazy shit!) We weren’t super early, but we made it in time to cop a couple things, check a couple obscure cats. Dave went home with that Headhunters piece he’d been scouting out for awhile, and I took some risks on a couple fusion pieces, along with some $5 jazz records. One piece I picked up that should prove to be a sunny weekend classic:

No cover for my copy, but still well-worth it, along with a couple others I can’t reveal just yet.

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Lush Life and Other Sounds

(Originally written November 2011)

I love this cover photo of Trane in deep concentration. Is he taking a pause before starting another song? Is he reading some notes during a studio session? Is he going for a cigarette? The look on his face is serious but calm. Is it a “lush life” because he’s able to take these pauses between playing beautiful music?

I bought this record at a time when my collection was just beginning, where I could pull any record and tell someone exactly where I had obtained it, when I had gotten it, who might have been there with me. Possibly what I had paid even if there was no longer a tag glued to the cover. I remember cherishing this fact, because the search for records is such a large part of why I love them.

In the mid-to-late 90s, the East and West Village of Manhattan was flooded with record stores, almost all of which have evaporated since then. I had very little money to spend on vinyl, and so that made each journey and occasional purchase more memorable.

I believe I bought Coltrane’s “Lush Life” at SOUNDS on St. Marks Place in 1997, and paid $10 or $12 for it. Years after SOUNDS closed, you could be sure to find their former stock at various places in the city, with their emblematic sticker pasted onto the front of a record, sometimes with a mouth-watering price – $1.99 for that rare Strata East record?! Back then there were at least 3-4 record stores on St. Marks at any given time, but now I’m uncertain if any of them still exist.

It is a beautiful recording. This was my only Coltrane on vinyl for many years. He has much more adventurous recordings, more experimental and brilliant moments, but this is still one of my all-time favorites for its sense of calm confidence and soft tranquility, as exemplified by the cover.