Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Visit Backstreet Records, Fredericton and St. John New Brunswick
Just in from a really nice time at Backstreet Records here in Fredericton. Located in the heart of the city's historic district, Backstreet Records is a good old fashioned record store -- independent, funky, friendly, and loaded with interesting stuff. Had that good old fashioned feel to it with handwritten signs, mixed bins of new and used CDs and records, oops vinyls (or maybe the used should be called records and the new vinyls). Up a flight of stairs and into wonderland -- posters, music, newspapers -- "Exclaim" as I understand it is a free national paper on all types of music that I will be looking through later -- and a chance to spend an hour or so with jazz, the blues, singer-songwriters, folk, any genre save classical seemed to be there, in vinyl or CD. And they produce a blog that they use to update folks on new music, concerts and festivals, etc. - http://backstreetrecords.blogspot.ca/.
Founded in St. John in 1980, with the Fredericton store opened in 1988, Backstreet Records appears to have a nice little business going and does not appear to be going anywhere soon, especially now with the return of vinyl as a valued medium, particularly among teens and college kids moving away from all downloads. According to Eric, the store manager, vinyl is now making up somewhere in the area of 2./3 of all sales, be it new vinyl or old records. This parallels the experiences I have seen across the country, and is a good sign for the viability of some of those stores we all worry about. And while I am at it, I have to note that Eric was great to talk with, an eclectic listener who knew a lot about most any genre we discussed. His take on jazz in the area is that most of the people who come in to buy it are looking for the classics or new releases by the well-known, so the store stocks "Kind of Blue", "Giant Steps" etc. But I still found things from Ornette Coleman, Carla Bley, Myra Melford, Ken Vandermark, and others of the free and avant garde movements that tells me there are others out there too who come here with an open mind. So while jazz is a small part of the store, it is any interesting and ecclectic collection.
As you know from my previous posts, I don't leave a store without picking up some CDs, and in this case I left with five at nice prices -- two jazz, two singer-songwriter, and one classic rock. We listened the two jazz CDs while I browsed and while we talked, so I can safely report on both.
The other piece of jazz is Joe Lovano's "Flights of Fancy" (Blue Note 2001) which is sub-titled trio fascination edition two. On it, Lovano plays with four different trios, Cameron Brown and Idris Muhammad, Billy Drews and Joey Baron, Toots Theilman and Kenny Werner, or Dave Douglas and Mark Dresser. Thus we have very different trios and sounds on this CD, with Lovano playing a wide range of instruments across them --- tenor, alto, alto clarinet, soprano sax, bass clarinet, C-melody sax, gongs and percussion, and drums. A highlight from my first listen were "I'll Remember April" with Thielmanns and Werner and Lovano on tenor, but I am sure there are many others to hear. A quote from AllMusic.com sums it up well:
... Lovano's "trio fascination" has deep roots, and the music on this record is a cumulative and probably near-exhaustive survey of his abilities within the form. One only need contrast "Hot Shot" or "Flights of Fancy" or the obscure McCoy Tyner ballad "Aisha" with modernist, offbeat abstractions like "Amber" and "Amsterdam" by trio four, or "Off and Runnin'" by trio two, to get an idea of Lovano's artistic range.
Should be a cool listen to get into.
And the three non-jazz CDs:
So that's it, a fine trip to Fredericton and a nice store for music lovers to hang out. And do not ever forget, Leonard Cohen started his 2009-10 right here in Fredericton, a concert immortalized on an EP that was produced for Record Day. That alone tells me this is a hip place for music.