While not a performer himself, Ed Smith is a catalyst for local jazz and blues artists and they can showcase their material "live" in the store while you shop. I refer to the experience as, "Shop And Bop!" This organic forum is perfect for artist and aficionado’s alike, since the artists have a way to sell product while having a "direct link" to the fan base they are working to reach. His support is invaluable and has positively affected the local music community. Smith currently has 70 releases from local acts where they are showcased live and prominently in the store displays. Every Saturday and Sunday features performances of the local artists just like this Saturday (DEC. 01, 2001) line up including, Kirk Whalum and his Warner Brothers holiday release, ‘The Christmas Message.’ Benita Hill also showcased her new holiday release, which received a 5 star rating from Jazz Review, featuring Kirk and Rod as accompanist. What Ed has been able to do for the music community is immeasurable as he has brought the jazz and blues music community together and working as a force of one. This accomplishment is a feat anywhere, but given the fact this is in Nashville, Tennessee, is even more of a welcome surprise. Among the groups celebrating the 1st year party, the Tennessee Jazz & Blues Society, WMOT 89.5 JAZZ FM and the Rage entertainment guide with information tables and other goodies. There were door prizes, special sales which included a limited series John Coltrane lithographs and below cost jazz publication subscriptions to JAZZIZ.
This "up-front" venue is the networking place for musicians and artists to mingle and even hook up with their similar interests. Perhaps, you want the latest import poster of Miles, Coltrane, Lady Day, Bob Marley, Hendrix or Marilyn Monroe - Ed has it! If you are looking for the latest Hendrix, Mingus or Jaco shirt or baseball cap- look no further. Among the greatest "finds" in the JAZZ store @ Bellevue Center, is the collection of 24-bit Japanese imports of jazz and other styles. The 24-bit format offers excellent, true- to- the -album packaging and extra tracks and rare extras. He also caries a large selection of European imports of posters, calendars, CD’s and video/ DVD. Jazz video and early Black films, many of which feature classic jazz artists, are also available giving light to the history and events that have given us jazz as we know it today. Serious collectors will revel in the selection of 180 gram virgin vinyl pressings of ‘Kind of Blue’ and ‘Blue Train’ from England and around the world.
If you have any questions about an artist (local or international), Ed is always eager to help and he is a wealth of information. Smith’s approach is simple- offer what no one else has and the people will come searching for your products. Indeed, Ed Smith has products that are not even in the databases of the most prominent chains but he has the uncanny ability to access product for any music lover's whims. "I have all the information here" he stated, pointing to his head." I now get referrals from the major chains and receive calls from out of state as well." No wonder since the word of mouth from the areas prominent musicians and collectors have created a well-deserved buzz in the area. "Many people can’t believe they are in the mall and I pull them in and ask them what their taste are. They seem surprised that I have an interest in what they like but I do and many of my customers have changed their buying habits for the better." Smith has a great love for his business and clientele. While some of his collectibles are for his high end customers he has a large number of young music fans searching his racks for that hard to get import poster or CD. Ed engages both customer types with equal enthusiasm and actually connects well with the young customer looking for Beatle, Hendrix and blues paraphernalia alongside the upscale /seasoned 24 bit jazz fan.
Another great aspect of the Jazz Store @ Bellevue, is the fact you can look for CD’s of artists and meet the artists and sidemen themselves-while you are shopping. While Kirk Whalum and Benita Hill performed their fans (and people passing by) were able to see great collaborations and get autographed copies of their CD’s. Where else than Nashville and Ed’s store could you see a Grammy -winning sax player with a lady jazz vocalist that wrote a number one hit for Garth Brooks? Quite simply nowhere except the Jazz store. You might even see Billy Cox or Buddy Miles while your looking for that ‘Band of Gypsies’ import or Grammy winning video documentary. Perhaps the most animated and uninhibited part of the store experience is Ed Smith himself! Smith sums it up like this," I’ve always believed that people want to be part of something exciting, special and unique. People want to be part of that, I’m not just talking about supporting it which they ultimately do, but they also like to be a part of what’s going on like that. Another thing about the music and the store is the enthusiasm I have about the music and the store is infectious I think. With my enthusiasm I end up grabbing people by the leg and pulling them along with my enthusiasm" Smith stated. Well one thing is for certain, Ed smith and his store JAZZ is certainly a tribute to jazz, blues and the enrichment of the community he is now an influential part of. Thanks for the memories and the music Ed. We salute you. FINE.