The gift of music comes in books, DVDs, CDs and vinyl



Planning your holiday shopping? Looking for a helpful holiday gift guide? Last year I wrote, “The holiday season is upon us. A time for giving. A time for peace. Among the many items on my Christmas list are the following recommended gifts for music lovers of all kinds.” Yeah, well scratch that idea this year.

When I started thinking about writing this column, I fully intended to write about all the wonderful items that could be on a music lover’s potential holiday wish list. I made my notes. I reviewed my list. Then I thought, “How boring!”

Everybody puts together holiday gift guides, advertising the goods of the moment. For what? So someone can rip it out of the newspaper or print it out and then go shop. Perhaps people might see something listed that they didn’t even know was available to the public. Wouldn’t that be nice? I’ll admit that I’ve seen some items that I didn’t know was around in time for the holidays. Do I feel like writing about them in detail? No.

Do I feel passionate about rolling out a list of notable items this year? No. This year, I say you’re on your own. However, I will throw out a few helpful hints. After all, I trust that some readers are up on all the new music, books, and DVDs available, especially in the jazz department. Savvy readers rule!

For Christmas, as a music lover, what would make me happy? I”ll tell you what. I would love to receive music made by people like Red Garland, Nat King Cole, El DeBarge, Miles Davis, Michael Jackson, Ella Fitzgerald, Roy Haynes, Etta Jones, Etta James, Corinne Bailey Rae, Christian McBride, Stanley Jordan, Rene Marie, Jimi Hendrix, Aretha Franklin, Eddie Palmieri, Geri Allen, Ellis Marsalis, Herbie Hancock, Gloria Estefan, Ray Charles, Ahmad Jamal, Esperanza Spalding, Harry Connick, Jr., John Coltrane, Ravi Coltrane, and the list goes on and on.

Recently I was pleased to receive Clark: The Autobiography of Clark Terry, writtenwith Gwen Terry (University of California Press, The book’s preface is by Quincy Jones, the foreword by Bill Cosby, and the introduction by David Demsey. Yes, I fully expect to enjoy reading this book and think that you will, too. Terry, a trumpeter and flugelhorn player who is an NEA Jazz Masters inductee and Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, chronicles his distinguished career of over six decades in his book.

What I don’t have, but would really appreciate, is Ken Burns’ Jazz on DVD. It’s been a minute since my first viewing. I have a copy of Jazz the book in my collection. If you don’t own a copy, that’s also something you might want to consider buying or requesting as a gift.

If you’re able to, go check out a jazz gig. Check out your local listings and as always MSR “Spot” section for ideas on who to see, and where to go. If you’re a hardcore jazz fan, there’s not anything new happening for the next few months, unless new bookings pop up. Stay tuned.

If you’re a vinyl fan, like I am, why not check out what’s new on vinyl. That’s another thing on my list: a turntable. Now, that’s a nice gift idea. HiFi Sound Electronics in Minneapolis and Needle Doctor in St. Louis Park are two places to visit for turntables and other vinyl record-playing equipment.

Really, I’m all about celebrating all the various forms of creativity that relate to music. I mean, I love jazz; it’s just that lately I’m finding myself drawn to other forms of music. And I like going to record stores. And I like buying all kinds of music magazines. This is what interests me, and maybe it interests you, too.

Have I been helpful? I hope so. It is my hope that as you’re shopping for those on your holiday list, you’ll consider supporting artists in any way that you’re able to during these challenging, yet equally creative times.


Robin James welcomes reader responses to