So I’ve made myself a vow. I am no longer going to acquire a jazz album just to have it. If I purchase or download an album, I have to listen to it, deeply and attentively, to be sure I want to keep it. To ensure that it is up to my level of enjoyment and not just kept in order to fill in a discography or earn eventual listening. Redundancy is an issue too. As my Lee Morgan posts of earlier this spring attest to, I can only handle so much playing in the same style. It was a revelation to go back and see that Lee had more of a dynamic than I had previously credited him but it also made me realize that while I enjoy the finest of his output in different styles, I only need so many of his blowing sessions — not almost all of them.
The fleeting rush of acquisition is a tantalizing drug. I have often fallen victim to it. To the delerium, the mania of constantly seeking new records, new knowledge, hearing how a player developed, who he played with, what sessions are available, what is rare and worth seeking. The greater the difficulty, the better the challenge, the greater the rush of attainment.
But where is the true satisfaction?
I love Don Byas to death. He is one of my all-time favorite tenor players. And when I realized this, I rushed out and got my hands on at least ten different sessions at once. I listen to them all casually for awhile but really only dedicated my ears to the Jazz In Paris series. Now I find myself wanting something new to hear from him when I have seven or eight good sessions sitting on my hard drive that I’ve only ever listened to once or twice. Why aren’t they enough?
As I go through and listen and review these records that have sat unloved in my collection, I will grapple with these questions and see if I cannot tame the impulse to constantly collect, to still the mania, and dampen the diminishing returns that keep me constantly seeking for more.