Everyone loves a bargain and sometimes your local Wal-Mart or other discount store can yield gems if you have patience. Personally, I enjoy weeding through the discount bins of CDs in search of jazz items that are often of questionable value and origin. But who among us cannot afford to purchase a recording for two or three dollars. A large part of my vinyl collection was picked up in the ‘cast-off’ section of record shops who were only too anxious to part with LPs at 3 for a dollar. What the heck? Vinyl was out and tape cassettes and CDs were what people wanted.
While wandering through my local discount store today, I came across a CD titled ‘Carmen McRae & Friends’ on the Spot-Lite label issued by a small company in Florida. It mentioned only two other people; Thad Jones and Cat Anderson. I parted with $3.95 and came home with an album totally devoid of liner notes and bearing a list of songs. What a surprise! This budget buy was nothing less than wonderful. A search of the web revealed that the session was from Cannes, France in 1979 and Carmen McRae is heard with the Thad Jones-Claude Bolling Band. Carmen played piano on one track and even sang a duet with the great Joe Williams. I’d give this record five stars anytime.
I’ll take a moment to enlighten fellow collectors about some of the labels that have yielded good results in the past. Javelin Records are manufactured in Israel and distributed by a firm in England. They have a broad range of reissue material including Woody Herman, Ella, Mississippi John Hurt, King Cole Trio, Louis Armstrong and more. Excellent Value!
Tring International also offers good value with their vintage reissues of Fletcher Henderson and Lionel Hampton. Hallmark is another British label that I have come to trust. I’ll buy anything on Hallmark if the artist interests me.
Then there are a couple of labels starting with the word ‘forever’. The first is ‘Forever Gold’ manufactured in Montreal, Canada and my experience has been very good. On the other hand the ‘Forever Music Group’ of New Jersey has produced items of the lowest quality. If you see their Dizzy Gillespie & Sarah Vaughan release, put your money back in your pocket.
Be it trash or treasure, the world of bargain bin digging is fun and often very rewarding. On the other hand, the trash is still useful as beer coasters for your next party. Enjoy your music either way and good luck.