I have officially gone off the deep end.
Everybody who knows me is aware that I am an obsessed record collector. I have more jazz records and CDs than anyone should be allowed to have. I’ve known for years that I’m slightly crazy in this regard. But I have always reassured myself with one fact: at least I don’t collect 78's.
I just shake my head at people who collect 78 RPM records. I mean, those folks are nuts. They’ll pay hundreds, even thousands, of dollars for a rare, but highly breakable, piece of shellac containing six minutes of music. That’s crazy. And do you know how much room a collection of 78’s takes up? Aside from that, most worthwhile 78’s have been reissued on LP or CD, anyway.
Yeah, I know I’ve had a box of 78’s for years; my grandmother gave it to me when I was a teenager. And I learned a lot about jazz and classic pop music from those records – I first heard Sidney Bechet, Benny Carter, and Coleman Hawkins, among others, on records from this stack. But I haven’t played any of those records for at least ten years. I don’t even know if the only turntable I own that will play 78’s even works any more. And it doesn’t matter anyway, because I don’t collect 78's.
But yesterday I bid on, and won, a 78 on Ebay. No, wait – let me explain! I have long been fascinated by an obscure jazz saxophonist who was active in Chicago in the 1930’s and 1940’s: Boyce Brown. And one of his sessions produced a 78 on the Collector’s Item label. I’ve been trying for years to find these two sides on an album, but according to Tom Lord’s jazz discography, they have never been reissued. So….
Well, you know the rest. And no, I didn’t pay three or four figures for this record – barely into two. So I’ll be digging out my old 78 RPM turntable to see if it works. When the record arrives, I’ll write something about the great Boyce Brown. In the meantime, think of me as I descend into madness.