A number of jazz recordings will be released Saturday in honor of Record Store Day
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Charles Mingus has some new music out this weekend. He would have turned 100 this week. And the album, recorded decades ago, is called "The Lost Album From Ronnie Scott's."
(SOUNDBITE OF CHARLES MINGUS' "MIND-READERS' CONVENTION IN MILANO")
INSKEEP: It's one of a number of jazz recordings arriving on Saturday in honor of Record Store Day. This is a big deal. Nate Chinen from Jazz Night In America and our member station WBGO is here to talk about it.
Hey there, Nate.
NATE CHINEN, BYLINE: Hey, Steve.
INSKEEP: I just want to point out, I would have thought that Spotify and Apple Music and so forth would have ended independent record stores.
CHINEN: (Laughter) The death of the brick-and-mortar record store has been greatly exaggerated. They're actually thriving. They're all over the country. And Record Store Day proves that. You can go to recordstoreday.com and find the shop near you. There's just a lot of energy around this right now.
INSKEEP: You know, I've just been doing this. And I find that there are numerous record stores within a few miles of my house. But what is Record Store Day?
CHINEN: Well, it started in 2008, really as a way for those independent record stores to generate some excitement and some revenue, you know, which they needed in response to those streaming services becoming so dominant. So Record Store Day has brought exclusive releases and in-store artist appearances and performances and signings and all kinds of special events.
INSKEEP: And doing it physically in the store - is this related to the resurgence in vinyl that we hear about from time to time?
CHINEN: I think it really is. There's an interesting correlation here. Record Store Day has been going now for 15 years. And during each of those years, vinyl sales have increased. And actually, according to the RIAA, the Recording Industry Association of America, vinyl sales jumped 61% last year, topping a billion dollars. And more than one out of every three albums sold in 2021 were vinyl LPs.
INSKEEP: I mean, I'm just getting my mind blown that there'd be a billion dollars of records, vinyl record sales in 2021. But please go on.
CHINEN: Yeah. So it really is a phenomenon. You know, what used to be a niche for connoisseurs has officially gone mainstream again. And I think it's undeniable Record Store Day has something to do with that.
INSKEEP: And as you mentioned, it's a time that artists release albums. Mariah Carey is releasing something. David Bowie has a posthumous release - even Taylor Swift. But this is a bigger day for jazz fans, as I understand it.
CHINEN: It really is. You know, for about a decade now, Record Store Day has been synonymous with jazz discovery. And by that, I mean historically significant recordings that have never been released before and, in many cases, were barely on anybody's radar. And this is largely the work of a tenacious and farsighted producer named Zev Feldman, a co-president of Resonance Records, who recognized early on that Record Store Day could be harnessed to support all of the effort and expense that it takes to bring one of these archival releases into the world, you know, with the highest production value, with a lot of care, with everything that it takes to create a kind of covetable collector's item. When I spoke with Feldman recently about this, he was clear about how Record Store Day really makes this possible, you know, putting out something in a limited edition that creates this kind of excitement around the release.
ZEV FELDMAN: If it wasn't for Record Store Day, we wouldn't be able to necessarily sell out. And oftentimes, it's about, hey, can we guarantee a certain amount of units through the pipeline? - because that enables us to be able to recoup on the expenses, and it allows for the whole project to happen.
INSKEEP: So that's how that Mingus album that we heard comes into the world. What else has Feldman produced for Record Store Day?
CHINEN: Well, in the past, he's put out a really incredible amount of material with Resonance Records, and also with some other labels. We're talking about extraordinary albums by the great guitarist Wes Montgomery, by Sarah Vaughan and Shirley Horn, the incredible jazz singers, and tenor saxophonists Sonny Rollins and Stan Getz, among others. You know, maybe the emblematic artist on Resonance has been Bill Evans, the peerless pianist and composer. He's actually got two new trio albums out for Record Store Day this year, both of which he recorded in Buenos Aires in the 1970s. This is a version of the Disney song "Someday My Prince Will Come."
(SOUNDBITE OF BILL EVANS PERFORMANCE OF FRANK CHURCHILL'S "SOMEDAY MY PRINCE WILL COME")
INSKEEP: OK. What else is new this weekend?
CHINEN: Well, for fans of the avant-garde, this is really a major drop. The tenor saxophonist and free jazz icon Albert Ayler has a box set dropping titled "Revelations: The Complete ORTF 1970 Fondation Maeght Recordings." And this is a document of a really legendary concert that's partly circulated in bootleg quality. But this version captures Ayler toward the end of his tragically short life. He's in spectacular form. And the mastering, the treatment of this material is really respectful. It's a beautiful thing.
(SOUNDBITE OF ALBERT AYLER'S "SPIRITS")
CHINEN: What's really remarkable here is that Feldman has found a way to help pull things like this out of the vault and make them actually commercially viable.
FELDMAN: I'm just inspired. Every day we are making these discoveries where I lose my mind and I find out about some new recording that exists. And then I have to ask myself, well, Zeb, I'm glad that you like it. Is the rest of the world - does it have a home out there? Is there a way that we could find its way to come out? I have to be honest with myself sometimes. And that is the tough part of the job. But, you know, by these limited editions, we're able to accomplish that, it feels.
INSKEEP: I guess, if vinyl is a billion-dollar industry, that is commercially viable.
CHINEN: It certainly is, you know? It's something that has become more and more the norm. And, you know, there's always been some overlap between, you know, jazz fans and vinyl obsessives. And here we have it coming together in a really beautiful and productive way.
INSKEEP: Nate Chinen of WBGO, thanks so much.
CHINEN: My pleasure, Steve.
INSKEEP: And let's go out with a little more Mingus from "The Lost Album From Ronnie Scott’s."
(SOUNDBITE OF CHARLES MINGUS' "FABLES OF FAUBUS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.