It’s been interesting to see a lot of people take a turn on Facebook at listing their “Top Albums That Have Stuck with You Over the Years”. I made my list quickly (as that was supposed to be the way to do it) and it went like this:
1. Elis & Tom – Elis Regina and Jobim
2. Gnu High – Kenny Wheeler
3. A Love Supreme – Coltrane
4. Study in Brown – Clifford Brown
5. Skydance – Jon Ballantyne w/Joe Henderson & Page One – Joe Henderson
6. Motion – Lee Konitz
7. Michael Brecker – Michael Brecker
8. Innervisions – Stevie Wonder
9. The Crossing – Sheila Jordan
10. Quartets (What’s New and the Bridge) – Sonny Rollins
11. First Meditations – Coltrane
12. Still Life Talking – Pat Metheny
13. (I’m adding this one because I can’t believe I forgot it!) My Funny Valentine -Miles Davis
Of course as soon as I wrote it down, more albums came to mind and I couldn’t believe I had left them off.
I took the list to mean “Albums that at one time were very important in my life, and that I listened to so much that I will forever know them inside and out”. I could have acknowledged that in the ’80s, I would listened religiously to Casey Kasem’s American top 40 and wrote down the list every week to see if Hall and Oates had climbed up past Nena or the Thompson Twins, but I went with the “Stuck With You Over the Years” over the “Were Formative, Especially Before You Found Jazz and Never Looked Back”
Anyway, the main reason I felt like writing a post, was that in checking out other lists, I noticed my friend Jaclyn Guillou had included Tom Harrell’s “Sail Away”, and that reminded me of this story:
Back in high school in Regina, I got my hair cut by a lady named Helen Yuen who, when she learned that I was into jazz, made me a cassette tape and gave it to me the next time I came in for a haircut. She had been to Seattle and picked up a couple records and thought I might like them. My jazz collection was still pretty small so I was super grateful to get my hands on the good stuff. On one side was Tom Harrell’s “Sail Away”, and on the other side was an obscure record on the Xanadu label, “True Blue” by Dexter Gordon and Al Cohn, featuring a piano player who would go on to be one of my favourite musicians ever: Barry Harris.
To this day, those are two of the albums I am most familiar with and they both feature some of my favourite music ever. Back before the days of easy access to infinite amounts of albums and youtube, every album counted for so much, as one would spend quite a lot of time with each record before moving on to the next. I wore that cassette tape out!
I’ve always wondered what happened to Helen Yuen. I think she moved to Vancouver back in the late ’80s. Maybe I’ll see her at one of my gigs and I can thank her again for the mixed tape!