Back in 1966 when I first attended college at LaSalle in Philadelphia, I was awestruck by the facilities the school offered. An art gallery, although small then, boasted paintings by Thomas Eakins and Rembrandt Peale. Don’t even get me started on the library. Another favorite was the game room with pool tables, ping pong tables, darts, and spaces for chess and checkers. The room also had a seating area with a television. I don’t remember the TV having color. Video games were decades in the future.
But my favorite space was the music room. It had a state of the art tuner, turntable, and a reel-to-reel tape player. The room had little else – a few paintings and drawings, some comfortable sofas. Jazz was all the rage then, and the music cabinet had a large collection of jazz, classical, and some LPs of the new British invasion groups like The Beatles.
My favorite album was “On My Way & Shoutin’ Again!” by Count Basie and his orchestra, with music composed by Neal Hefti. The amazing Thad Jones played piano. At least once a week, I would go to the room, find it nearly empty and the record player unused. I would sit there eating my lunch, reading, or catching up on writing assignments.
Then, one day, the record was gone. I asked around. Someone had pinched it, and I thought I would never hear it again.
Not a single record store I called or visited had the album issued only a few years earlier in 1962. I searched in every city I visited. In those days, even a small city would have several record stores. Clerks frequently found it listed in catalogues, but always with the notation “no longer available.” With the advent and growth of the internet, I began searching again — even though I no longer owned a working turntable.
Last week, I struck gold. I found a store in San Francisco, which specialized in jazz recordings. They had a recently re-issued CD. Once again, I can listen to this great disc anytime I wish. In fact, I am listening to it now. I wonder if they have any more of those albums from long ago on CD? Basie, Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, Dinah Washington, Wes Montgomery, Oscar Peterson – now THAT”s music!