In this digital age, sales of physical copies of albums are on the decline. People are more likely to download an album off of Itunes then visit a local record store. Despite the connivence of simply downloading music from a computer, I still believe there is a value to buying a physical album. There is a level of intimacy in purchasing an album from a record store. Shoveling through shelves looking for a hidden gem, the excitement of picking up that album your friend recommended, or opening a new album and listening to it for the first time on the ride home. Record stores still hold value and Chicago is filled with great locations to expand your music library. There are plenty of great locations to choose from and this list is just a microcosm of what is available here. Perhaps in a later post I will give a more in depth list of record stores in Chicago. However, this will give you a few local options to help enrich your Jazz library.
Located on 1120 N. Ashland Ave. in the Ukrainian Village, Dusty Groove is filled with plenty of Jazz, Funk and Soul, Cd’s and Vinyl’s. Just a couple blocks from the Division Blue line stop Dusty Groove is very accessible via public transportation. Their albums are reasonably priced and make it easier to purchase albums online then most local record stores do. Overall Dusty Groove makes buying albums an enjoyable experience and definitely a record store worth checking out.
This is as “mainstream” as my record stores get. With three locations in Wicker Park, Lakeview, and Downtown, Reckless Records is one of the best places to purchase used Cd’s and Vinyl’s in Chicago. They carry a selection of predominately used Cd’s at rock bottom prices. I’ve walked into Reckless many times and with 20 dollars I’ve purchased albums from Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Bill Evans, and Herbie Hancock. However, there are a few downsides to Reckless Records, they mainly offer used Cd’s so if you prefer buying new albums they are scarce at Reckless and overpriced. Also, I have found errors in their online store so just because it says it’s at a certain location doesn’t mean it will be. Another thing is Reckless is predominately indie rock so their Jazz selection is rather small. Despite this they do have all the essential artists you know and recognize, but if you are looking for a specific album I would suggest shopping elsewhere. Still, Reckless Records has several locations, a solid selection, and great deals. A Coleman Hawkings album for 1.99? You can’t beat that.
The Jazz Record Mart
This is not a list of the best Jazz record stores in Chicago. However, if it was it would be hard to not put The Jazz Record Mart at number one. The name says it all, The Jazz Record Mart’s CD selection is second to none. It’s so large it is alphabetized and organized by time periods. It’s nothing but Jazz and all of its sub genres. Prices run a bit high, but I promise you it is the best place to buy Jazz music in the city. The selection is vast, the staff is knowledgable, and its location downtown makes it easy to get to via train. The only negatives to the Jazz Record Mart are its price and its online store looks a bit dated. Other than that if you are okay with paying retail (and maybe a few dollars more) The Jazz Record Mart is a must for any Jazz aficionado.
As I’ve said earlier this is just an introduction to buying Jazz records in Chicago. There are plenty of excellent record stores in the city that I did not mention. Below I’ve posted links to all the record stores I’ve mentioned so you can check them out yourself. Feel free to comment on the blog and, as always, thank you for staying in the Jazz Loop.