That Long Line

CD Glut.jpg

Jazz isn’t dead or dying. It’s just waiting to be heard. The photograph shows an eleven-foot line of CDs on the floor of my music room. There are 352 of them. They are some of the review copies that have arrived in the past couple of months. Boxes and shelves in my office hold at least three times that many more.  A stack of DVDs on the credenza behind where I am writing reaches to within a few inches of the ceiling. None of these recordings is yet in the permanent collection. They are languishing, hoping to be reviewed.


I estimate that there are 1,050 CDs and thirty-five DVDs on hold. Let’s assume that each is an hour long, a low average. If I were to spend eight hours a day, including weekends, listening and watching, it would be–appropriately–April 1st, 2009, before I finished. But I would not finish because long before then I would have been taken to the loony bin. In the meantime, at the current rate, a couple of thousand more recordings will have arrived. Did I mention the storage problem?


All a reviewer can do is hope that experience, knowledge, instinct and luck will guide him toward what to pull from that long line. If the next Armstrong, Young, Parker, Evans, Coleman or Coltrane is there and I miss him (or her), I’ll be sorry, but listening is a linear proposition, and there’s only so much time.


Below is the next installment in my attempt to keep up with the endless flow of recordings.

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  1. says

    Like you, I’m overwhelmed with a number of still unheard review copies of jazz CDs and DVDs that has to be over 1000. I always am amused when I get an email a week after a CD arrives, typically by a new artist that I never have heard of (with similarly unknown sidemen/sidewomen) consisting of all originals, and the publicist asks if I’ve heard it yet or plan to review it. I know he or she is just doing his job, but artists need to think about selling points to get reviews before they go into the studio. Being little known and performing exclusively originals is hardly a way to work your way closer to the top of my listening list.
    At least I have a basement with plenty of room, though I’ll need some more shelving early next year.

  2. John Berry says

    Brilliant piece Doug. And that’s only a subset of music. Paul Feyerabend died before he finished “Conquest of Abundance,” a book I haven’t been able to see through to the end. And you don’t even have to buy the CDs. I used to be p—ed because you got all the review copies but now I pay small money to hear everything Rhapsody* puts up, which is a lot. (Apple is not my eye.) Neither vendor has Jim Pepper, but it’s still a lot of music, much of it so-called.
    I’m paying a lot of attention to how young people are dealing with glut. So far, it has not been inspiring.