My “Manifest” Destiny

It’s for good reason that my Jazz Inside column is called “Browsing the Bins”. Rummaging through the bins of used CD and record stores in search of “buried treasures” is one of the things that provide me with a little R & R, wherever I am.  On business trips, I’ve been known to scour online resources, in cities across the country, in search of the local grimy music store.  So it was not out of the ordinary yesterday, that I grabbed a quick lunch and headed to Manifest; a converted supermarket that now serves as Charlotte’s largest used music store.  I wasn’t looking for anything particular, just something different. However, when your collection is as large as mine and you have about 30 minutes, finding that “different” thing is no small task.

However, in the immortal words of Tennessee Williams”Sometimes, there’s God, so quickly”.  As I ambled towards my usual starting place in the Used Jazz section, I walked through the New Jazz section and discovered something different.  A 3 CD anthology from Polygram Canada, called Jazz ‘Round the Clock; a compilation of great Verve tracks, some of which I’d never heard before, broken down into “Morning”, “Noon” and “Night”. The price was $9.99, so I couldn’t resist it.

Next, I came across this large rack of used discs, “5 for $5” read the sign above it.  I thought I would give it a passing glance, but I was struck by the eclectic collection of discs, all in good condition and shrink wrapped. One disc that stood out among the rest was A Love Song by Percy Heath.

For those of you unfamiliar with him, Percy Heath was the oldest of the Heath Brothers, the longtime bassist of the Modern Jazz Quartet and one of jazz’s legendary artisans on his instrument.  He was also as warm and self-effacing a man as you would ever meet.  So much so, that among his countless recordings, A Love Song was his only one as a leader, recorded when he was 79, a little less than two years before his death in 2005. The timing made A Love Song both a welcome introduction and a touching valedictory.

The music on A Love Song is like Percy himself was; understated and unassuming yet utterly brilliant.  The selections include two of his compositions from his Heath Brothers days, “No More Weary Blues” and “Watergate Blues”.  It also includes one of the most familiar tunes in the MJQ catalog, John Lewis’ “Django” and a wonderful suite that Percy composed as a tribute to his father.  The instrumentation is unusual but appropriate.  It’s a quartet that consists of Jeb Patton, the gifted young Heath Brothers pianist, Percy’s brother, Tootie on drums and the fine bassist, Peter Washington.  Percy’s bass and pizzicato cello are out front, handling most of the lead lines, soloing often and effortlessly.  It’s impressive to hear the two gifted bassists work together and not only stay out of each other’s way, but actually feed off of each other and thrive.

I know so much about this disc because I already own a copy, having purchased it not too long after its release.  The record label, Daddy Jazz Records is as far as I know, out of business and the disc is out of print. Stray new copies can be had from online outlets, at full price. Often, all of these conditions will combine to drive the price of a disc sky high.  But there I was standing in Manifest, holding a copy of this now rare disc, that I had just plucked from the “5 for $5” rack. 

Of course, I have no need for another copy but for some reason, I could not leave this disc there.  I felt that I needed to share this music with someone. Perhaps I should buy it and give it to a friend.  So that’s exactly what I plan to do.  I bought that copy of A Love Song and I’m going to give it to one of my friends who reads my blog and would appreciate the music of Percy Heath. 

If you think that you may be that person, here’s what you need to do. Simply leave me a Direct Message on Twitter www.twitter.com/curtjazz letting me know that you want the Percy Heath CD and your mailing address.  The first person to do this, will get the disc for free. I will send it to you via first class mail, in a padded envelope to protect it during shipping.  There will be no charge to you; consider it my gift to you as a thanks for reading my ramblings. 

Please note that in order to leave me a DM, you have to be a Twitter follower of mine and vice versa, so if you don’t currently follow me, you may want to do so.  I give you my word that I will not use your address information for any further requests or solicitations of any kind.  In fact, I will erase it from my memory bank immediately after I ship the disc to you. 

Thanks for reading. Until the next time, as always, the jazz continues…

One Response to “My “Manifest” Destiny”

  1. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by ElliFordyce2: RT @curtjazz: New post on my blog “Curt’s Jazz Cafe”. The Percy Heath CD is gone, but U may enjoy the post anyway. http://wp.me/pFsCc-P

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