Friday, April 20, 2012

A Visit to the Jazz Record Mart

I recently enjoyed a visit to Chicago and, of course, a trip to the Jazz Record Mart.  This little gem is at 27  East Illinois St., just a little North of the River and West of Michigan Ave.  Right next to it, I will mention before I forget, is a wonderful Thai restaurant, The Star of Siam.  

The JRM is a wonderful place to find just what you are looking for, especially if you are looking for jazz that has a Chicago connection.  I walked out with six recordings, a couple of which I couldn't find online. 

Ken Vandermark's Sound in Action Trio is something special: Vandermark on tenor sax and clarinet, with Robert Barry and Tim Mulvenna, both on drums.  The album is Design in Time (1999).  I am playing the first cut, Ornette Coleman's 'Law Years' and Albert Ayler's 'Angels'.  I also nailed Dual Pleasure, with Vandermark and Paal Nilssen-Love on drums.  I am playing 'Anno 1240'.  Both albums are superb. Vandermark is one of the most brilliant horn players of the current age.  He is endlessly inventive, with that hard edge and reverence for musical history that defines Chicago avant garde. The trio album is more accessible, mostly because Vandermark is covering other composers.  

Trio 3 with Geri Allen, At This Time (2009), features: 
This is an easy album to warm up to.  I have a special fondness for Cyrille.  I am playing 'Swamini', an Allen composition in honor of Alice Coltrane.  

The late Fred Anderson is another Chicago AG stalwart.  I picked up his Blue Winter, a two disc CD with William Parker on bass and Hamid Drake on drums.  The first disc is a long rambling blues.  I am playing the last cut, 'IV', from the second disc.  There is power in that there trio!  

I also picked up The All-Star Game I, with 
This is avant garde.  

Finally, I purchased The Matthew Shipp Trio-The Multiplication Table (1998). 
This is also very avant garde, with a mix of easily accessible piano work and some very challenging deconstructions of 'Autumn Leaves' and 'Take the A Train'.  I am playing 'The New Fact'.

That was my trip to the record store.  Oh,  and the Thai food was excellent. 


  1. This really raises some memories regarding jazz. Back when I was a very young undergraduate, I had to drop out of school and find work in Chicago to come up with tuition. The economy in my hometown was in a down-cycle, and I was trying to decide whether to make the trumpet or the typewriter the instrument of my ambitions. For a year, I worked in the Wrigley Building, and the first place I went during the lunch break on payday was to the precursor of the Jazz Record Mart, Seymour's on South Wabash under the el tracks. I allowed myself one vinyl a payday, and it was usually Gillespie, Parker, Brubeck, Mulligan--people we studied and tried to emulate. Jazz was not studied in college back then, and we depended upon records.

    It is probably a good thing that the store was not on East Illinois at the time or I would probably have saved nothing for tuition. I lived only blocks away near the Northwestern Chicago campus, where I took night classes.

    I later moved further north where there were jazz clubs centered around North Broadway and Barry. I did not go into them because I was not old enough, but we hung around outside the doors where we could hear the sounds and smell the heavy smoke of cannabis. They were impoverished but extremely exciting times.

    Knowing that the Jazz Record Mart is still operating seems like stabilizing force in the world of the arts.

  2. Thanks for the great note, Dave! I don't have much confidence in the future of record stores, but this one is still going and I love it.