Way back in the day, when the world was young (at least in my eyes), and libraries in small midwestern towns were housed in beautiful, grand old buildings just off the main square, I had discovered something really cool. It was so cool, that none of my friends at the time understood what the hell I was going on about. This particular library in question, forced one to walk up a set of immense steps to a large porch with a set of majestic pillars, before you had to make your way past a thick wooden door to enter a world of books. The books were stacked in rooms with dark wood floors, criss-crossed with trails where the passage of thousands of feet had worn off the varnish and stain. Stair cases seemed to be in every corner, leading you up into the high ceilings to even more rooms of books. Damn, as a kid I absolutely loved that library, and my mother took me there weekly.
This library loaned far more than books, of course. It also lent out vinyl, and they had an entire room of nothing but LP’s. It was there that I was initially introduced to the world of Jazz, and the first album I checked out was by a trumpeter called Louis Armstrong. Soon after, I took up the trumpet myself, and I wasn’t all bad… when I practiced.
Armstrong inspired me to try my luck at playing, but it was Miles that really hooked me to the music. I was really young when I came across the album: “Miles Davis In Person Friday and Saturday Nights at the Blackhawk”. It’s important to note, that it wasn’t the Friday Night Album, nor the Saturday Night Album, because I had scored the Complete Album of both nights. And I spun that vinyl over and over and over again.
I kept that double LP until 2007, when it was lost to the ages. I eventually downloaded the iTunes version, which turned out to be the really “Complete” Album, but I still missed the LP. As luck would have it, I once again stumbled upon the Friday and Saturday Night double album on vinyl recently, and I still prefer to spin that when the fire is going in the woodstove and the stars are blazing bright like they are tonight.
I wish the Blackhawk was still around. I’d like to sit back with a Scotch & some friends, and listen to some jazz there, just to know I had done it once. It must have been one hell of an experience back in 1961.