My Favorite CD Shops

What was once a main street business has become a niche market: the CD store.

The way music is sold has significantly changed over the last few years. Huge CD stores with multiple floors where you could get everything from Bach to Zappa have been closed and the CD stores (even in major cities) are difficult to find. The biggest players are now online with Amazon and iTunes as the leaders of the pack. In addition, streaming services like Spotify use the availability of the web to propose their music “to go”.

Entertainment retail stores offer bigger departments for computer games then for CDs, and for the Jazz lovers the choice is typically reduced to the stuff from the marketing campaigns of the big music labels. Shelves of CDs are only equipped with Jamie Cullum, Diana Krall or Gregory Porter. Even if the music is nice and entertaining, once you have bought the CDs there is no need to go into that store again. There is nothing to discover there, no hidden treasures and no local artist you have seen recently in a jam session or a concert.

I’m one of those die-hards who love to hold a CD in their hands and carry it around e.g. to listen to it in the car and for that reason I’m constantly looking around where to get new and interesting material.

Lucky enough for me, there still is a nice CD store in Bern where you can go to search and discover those hidden treasures.

The store is called Roody Be Goode Records and it is right in the center of Bern. The exact address is Spitalgasse 36. The store is in the basement of the building so from the street you should see only the singing black lady and a banner with the store’s logo but when you take the the steep stairs down you find the biggest selection of Jazz and Blues in Bern. You find all the popular stuff (obviously) but also all the local Jazz and Blues artists.

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www.be-goode-records.ch


In addition there is also a very nice CD store on the web which I would like to introduce to you: It’s called CDBaby.com.

www.cdbaby.com

They call themselves the best independent music store on the web and I think that online store is also full of interesting stuff you will never find at the big stores. I discovered CDs from some of my favorite guitar players like Frank Vignola, Bruce Forman or Mark Whitfield on CDBaby.com. This online store gives all those artists that manage their CDs themselves a platform to sell their music online. The store is very well organized and you’re able to listen to all the songs before buying.

They are able to handle the distribution to international addresses as well, it just takes a little bit more time, but the stuff is well wrapped and your CDs should arrive without damages.

And: I received the funniest automatically generated mail ever when my order was being shipped.


Finally, I found a third way of buying CDs: Go to a concert and buy the music directly there. If you are lucky, you even get an autograph from the artists making your CD really a collector’s item.

You Don’t Know What Love Is

This tune was originally written for the 1941 Universal film “Keep ‘Em Flying” but became famous in the Jazz scene in the 1950′s when Miles Davis or Chet Baker started to play and record this song.

The original key of this song is G minor and the form is a 32 bars AABA standard form. The Real Book has the song in the key of F minor and refers to the recordings of Miles Davis on “Walkin’” from 1954 and Sonny Rollins on “Saxophone Colossus” from 1956.

As this is a very popular song from the Great American Songbook there are endless versions recorded and I would like to share with you my top 5 recordings of this jazz standard:

  1. Pat Martino (from the 1976 album “We’ll Be Together Again”): This recording finds Pat Martino with Gil Goldstein on the electric piano in their best form, playing the song very sophisticated and aesthetic and leaving a lot of space to each other proving that less notes can be more music. Pat Martino plays the melody with just a little bit of additional “decoration” and improvises over the AAB part of the second chorus with a straight even groove but without falling into a double-time feeling.
  2. John Coltrane (from the 1962 album “Ballads”): Here we have  John Coltrane’s classic quartet with McCoy Tyner on piano, Jimmy Garrison on bass and Elvin Jones on drums.
    The melody is played rubato, the solo (saxophone only) is very straight swinging and the song is closed by playing the first part of the melody once more rubato. This recording is a real “classic” one and is an excellent example of the Coltrane-style of jazz music.
  3. Chet Baker (from the album “Saga All Stars: You Don’t Know What Love Is / 1953-1955″): This recording features Chet Baker singing and playing the trumpet (his sideman are Russ Freeman (p), Carson Smith (b) and Bob Neal (d)) and is a perfect sample of cool and relaxed played Jazz music. The trumpet solo is very melodically and Baker’s lost and lonely voice is unique in it’s style. The song has been recorded at a time when Baker was one of the most influential jazz musicians representing cool and west coast jazz.
  4. Mad Romance (from the 2011 album “Aim High”): Mad Romance  (www.madromance.com) is a Miami-based vocal quartet which released this song on their entertaining CD “Aim High”. Here we hear a nicely arranged vocal quartet with beautiful voicings and a lovely dialog between trumpet and saxophone.
  5. Eliane Elias (from the 2013 album “I Thought About You (A Tribute to Chet Baker)”): 50 years after Chet Baker’s recording we have tribute recording by Eliane Elias. Her voice reminds me a little bit of Chet’s voice since it has also less volume or vibrato and her style inspired by her Brazilian roots is also cool and smooth and so she finds the ideal balance for this song in her singing and in the piano solo.

All the songs are found either on Amazon or iTunes for download. I prepared a playlist on iTunes for you so you can listen yourself to the versions presented.

If you know a version of that song that is quite special or unique in it’s arrangement, please leave a comment.