• I recently was brought in to Philadelphia to teach a DJ workshop. One of the topics that I brought up was my stance on music piracy. This is a touchy subject, especially among the young-ish Lindy Hop crowd who have grown up swapping files online. Beyond the fact that purchasing your music is simply the right thing to do, my take on it is that the Jazz music we love is unlike the pop music churned out by the record industry. Oftentimes it is put out by independent labels who care about the music itself even more than we do. So you copying that album from your buddy (or, as the case might be, a whole collection from a buddy) directly affects the people striving to provide us with this great material. You choosing to purchase it supports these companies and allows them to continue releasing more of the music you love.

    There is also the issue of new bands or artists that are still alive.  Always buy, and buy directly from the artist if you can!  This is their livelihood and they are not making heaps of money off of this.  I personally know many currently active swing musicians, and I definitely want them to be able to continue releasing recordings.  They deserve more than fans pirating their music.

    As a side note, there may be many ways people justify piracy, but it’s still illegal. In the U.S., if the song was released in 1922 or earlier, it is now in the public domain. Unfortunately for us, most of the music we listen to was published after that. The bad news is that new songs will not begin to enter the public domain until 2019.

    Another point is that I’m a big fan of liner notes. The more you know about your music, the better a DJ you will be. When you download tracks from the internet or from friends, you get very little information (and sometimes completely incorrect information!) about the music itself. Learning about the music you play will lead you to discover more music in the same vein. Trust me, if you are serious about your music, this will be to your benefit.

    I’m going to get off my soapbox for now and give you what I gave the aspiring DJs in Philadelphia: a list, simply as an example, that shows how you can get a great collection of classic jazz for less than $100. This isn’t meant to be a definitive list by any means, it was just what I came up with spending twenty minutes online. I tried to include many sources to show it doesn’t all have to come from one place. I’m not including links because the prices and availability are sure to change after this writing, but you’ll get the idea.

    My List

    Lionel Hampton Story (92 tracks), new on Amazon: $12.64

    Quintessential Billie Holiday, Volume 1 (16 tracks), mp3 on Amazon: $9.99

    The Complete Decca Count Basie (63 tracks), new on Ebay: $4.99

    Carmen McRae Great American Songbook (18 tracks), new on Amazon: $7.11

    Count Basie Live at the Sands (14 tracks), used on Amazon: $7.49

    Duke’s Joint (16 tracks), used on Amazon: $3.28

    Ella & Duke at the Côte D’Azur (18 tracks), new on buy.com: $16.99

    Slim Gaillard, Laughing in Rhythm (102 tracks), new on amazon: $13.75

    Gordon Webster, Happy When I’m With You (12 tracks), new on iTunes: $9.99 (or pick it up in person sometime!)

    Plus 8 tunes on iTunes (yes, I know you can’t usually get liners on iTunes. I struggle with this):

    Keep On Churnin’ – Wynonie Harris
    Benny Goodman – Did You Mean It?
    Buster Smith – Organ Grinder Swing
    Chris Connor – Summertime
    Bill Henderson – You Are My Sunshine
    Louis Jordan – Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby
    Fats Waller – Let’s Sing Again
    Nellie Lutcher – Fine Brown Frame

    TOTAL: $94.15 (plus shipping) for 343 songs!

    A big thanks to the good folks at LaB who brought me in for the workshop, it helped me write down a lot of the stuff that has been in my head for a while.

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    11 responses to “A Great Jazz Collection for Less Than $100”

    1. Whoaaa I’m totally getting that Slim Gaillard collection!

      Another thing that’s a bit touchy and confusing is the right to DJ these songs and accept payment for playing them. Is this “commercial use”?

    2. Mike Thibault

      That is another subject that I need some clarification on. There is the venue-paid ASCAP or BMG fee, which gives the venue the right to play any *song* (not the recording itself, I believe) managed by either of those groups. Just this week I was told of a separate fee for an individual person, which I’ll have to look into. As far as playing recordings goes, if it is a live event I don’t know if there are any restrictions on that. If you are including music in something like an instructional DVD or a TV show or something like that, you definitely have to pay the artist on top of ASCAP or BMG. If anyone has links to information about any of this, please post.

    3. It’s BMI, Mike! Another company of the same kind is SESAC. they’re a little newer. Solomon could link you to a couple articles, however, about how they are all kind of sketchy companies, and they are generally just helping out the top percentages of popular musicians, and they also like to shake down small venues for their fees… even if the venues are only bringing in groups that play original music!

    4. The Proper box sets (like Lionel Hampton Story) are incredible value for money. Great suggestions :)

    5. Mike Thibault

      Ah thanks Eric! I used to have links to their databases for song lookups, it’s been a while.

    6. Great post, Mike! Thanks.

    7. I enjoyed our conversations about this at Beantown – thanks for the post. I totally appreciate your point about supporting living artists and the people and labels making the classic work available. Case in point – on the way back from Beantown I stopped in my favorite used CD store in Northampton, Mass. and found some great Duke Ellington stuff with material I had never heard and a Roy Eldridge in Paris CD’s – the liner notes are great and really help to give a cultural and historical context for the music – as well as lineups and some vocalists I had never heard of . Thanks Mike !

    8. As a broke college kid, I offer this advice: 100 bucks will literally buy more vinyl than a man can carry without a handtruck or steroids. And there’s plenty of music out there that only exists on vinyl. There’s something to be said for the feeling of physical connection to the music that vinyl brings–knowing that the item you’re holding is as old as the music itself. There’s also the fact that the liner notes and artwork that the format provides are just mind-blowing–I have friends who use record jackets as posters.

      A scratch on a record sounds annoying for a few measures before you play past it. A scratch on a CD just ruins it.

    9. Wow these are some great albums at a reasonable price. I will check these out for sure. Much thanks for the post.

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    11. [...] Mike Thibault – A Great Jazz Collection For Less Than $100 [...]

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